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  • 1. JSOU Report 10-3 Afghanistan, Counterinsurgency, and the Indirect ApproachAfghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachHenriksen Thomas H. Henriksen JSOU Report 10-3 April 2010
  • 2. Joint Special Operations University Brian A. Maher, Ed.D., SES, President Kenneth H. Poole, YC-3, Strategic Studies Department Director William W. Mendel, Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.; Jeffrey W. Nelson, Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.; and William S. Wildrick, Captain, U.S. Navy, Ret. — Resident Senior Fellows Editorial Advisory Board John B. Alexander Alvaro de Souza Pinheiro Ph.D., Education, The Apollinaire Group Major General, Brazilian Army, Ret.Joint Special Operations University and JSOU Senior Fellow JSOU Associate Fellowand the Strategic Studies Department Roby C. Barrett, Ph.D., Middle James F. Powers, Jr.The Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) provides its publications Eastern & South Asian History Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret. Public Policy Center Middle East Institute Director of Homeland Security,to contribute toward expanding the body of knowledge about joint special and JSOU Senior Fellow Commonwealth of Pennsylvania andoperations. JSOU publications advance the insights and recommendations Joseph D. Celeski JSOU Associate Fellowof national security professionals and the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret. Richard H. Shultz, Jr.students and leaders for consideration by the SOF community and defense JSOU Senior Fellow Ph.D., Political Scienceleadership. Chuck Cunningham Director, International Security Lieutenant General, U.S. Air Force, Ret. Studies Program, The Fletcher School, Tufts JSOU is the educational component of the United States Special Opera- University and JSOU Senior Fellow Professor of Strategy, Joint Advancedtions Command (USSOCOM), MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The JSOU Warfighting School and JSOU Senior Fellow Stephen Sloanmission is to educate SOF executive, senior, and intermediate leaders and Ph.D., Comparative Politics Gilbert E. Doanselected other national and international security decision makers, both Major, U.S. Army, Ret., JSOU University of Central Floridamilitary and civilian, through teaching, outreach, and research in the Institutional Integration Division Chief and JSOU Senior Fellowscience and art of joint special operations. JSOU provides education to the Brian H. Greenshields Robert G. Spulak, and women of SOF and to those who enable the SOF mission in a joint Colonel, U.S. Air Force, Ret. Ph.D., Physics/Nuclear Engineering Senior Lecturer, DoD Analysis, Naval Sandia National Laboratoriesand interagency environment. and JSOU Associate Fellow Postgraduate School JSOU conducts research through its Strategic Studies Department where Thomas H. Henriksen Joseph S. Stringhameffort centers upon the USSOCOM and United States SOF missions: Brigadier General, U.S. Army, Ret. Ph.D., History, Hoover Institution Stanford University and JSOU Senior Fellow Alutiiq, LLC and JSOU Associate Fellow USSOCOM mission. USSOCOM provides fully capable and enabled Russell D. Howard Graham H. Turbiville, Jr. SOF to defend the nation’s interests in an environment characterized by Ph.D., History, Courage Services, Inc. Brigadier General, U.S. Army, Ret. irregular warfare. Adjunct Faculty, Defense Critical Language/ and JSOU Associate Fellow USSOF mission. USSOF conducts special operations to prepare the oper- Culture Program, Mansfield Center, University Jessica Glicken Turnley of Montana and JSOU Senior Fellow Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology/ ational environment, prevent crisis, and respond with speed, aggression, Southeast Asian Studies John D. Jogerst and lethality to achieve tactical through strategic effect. Colonel, U.S. Air Force, Ret. Galisteo Consulting Group 18th USAF Special Operations School and JSOU Senior Fellow The Strategic Studies Department also provides teaching and curriculum Commandant Rich Yargersupport to Professional Military Education institutions—the staff colleges Ph.D., History, Ministerial Reform Advisor; James Kirasand war colleges. It advances SOF strategic influence by its interaction in Ph.D., History, School of Advanced Air and U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stabilityacademic, interagency, and United States military communities. Space Studies, Air University and JSOU Operations Institute and JSOU Associate Associate Fellow Fellow The JSOU portal is
  • 3. On the cover. Special Operations Forces on horseback in Afghanistanduring Operation Enduring Freedom. DoD photo.
  • 4. Afghanistan,Counterinsurgency, and theIndirect Approach Thomas H. Henriksen JSOU Report 10-3 The JSOU Press Hurlburt Field, Florida 2010
  • 5. Comments about this publication are invited and should be forwarded to Director,Strategic Studies Department, Joint Special Operations University, 357 Tully Street,Alison Building, Hurlburt Field, Florida 32544. Copies of this publication may beobtained by calling JSOU at 850-884-1569. *******The JSOU Strategic Studies Department is currently accepting written works relevantto special operations for potential publication. For more information please contactMr. Jim Anderson, JSOU Director of Research, at 850-884-1569, DSN 579-1569, Thank you for your interest in the JSOU Press. *******This work was cleared for public release; distribution is unlimited.ISBN 1-933749-46-6
  • 6. The views expressed in this publication are entirely those of the authorand do not necessarily reflect the views, policy or position of the UnitedStates Government, Department of Defense, United States SpecialOperations Command, or the Joint Special Operations University.
  • 7. Recent Publications of the JSOU PressIndia’s Northeast: The Frontier in Ferment, September 2008, Prakash SinghWhat Really Happened in Northern Ireland’s Counterinsurgency,October 2008, Thomas H. HenriksenGuerrilla Counterintelligence: Insurgent Approaches to NeutralizingAdversary Intelligence Operations, January 2009, Graham H. Turbiville, Jr.Policing and Law Enforcement in COIN — the Thick Blue Line,February 2009, Joseph D. CeleskiContemporary Security Challenges: Irregular Warfare and IndirectApproaches, February 2009, Richard D. Newton, Travis L. Homiak,Kelly H. Smith, Isaac J. Peltier, and D. Jonathan WhiteSpecial Operations Forces Interagency Counterterrorism ReferenceManual, March 2009The Arabian Gulf and Security Policy: The Past as Present, thePresent as Future, April 2009, Roby C. BarrettAfrica: Irregular Warfare on the Dark Continent, May 2009,John B. AlexanderUSSOCOM Research Topics 2010Report of Proceedings, 4th Annual Sovereign Challenge Conference(16–19 March 2009)Information Warfare: Assuring Digital Intelligence Collection,July 2009, William G. PerryEducating Special Forces Junior Leaders for a Complex SecurityEnvironment, July 2009, Russell D. HowardManhunting: Counter-Network Operations for Irregular Warfare,September 2009, George A. CrawfordIrregular Warfare: Brazil’s Fight Against Criminal Urban Guerrillas,September 2009, Alvaro de Souza PinheiroPakistan’s Security Paradox: Countering and Fomenting Insurgencies,December 2009, Haider A.H. MullickHunter-Killer Teams: Attacking Enemy Safe Havens, January 2010,Joseph D. CeleskiReport of Proceedings, Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) andOffice of Strategic Services (OSS) Society Symposium, Irregular Warfareand the OSS Model (2–4 November 2009)U.S. Military Engagement with Mexico: Uneasy Past and ChallengingFuture, March 2010, Graham H. Turbiville, Jr.
  • 8. ForewordI n exploring Counterinsurgency and the Indirect Approach, Dr. Thomas Henriksen assesses several cases where the United States has employed an Indirect Approach toward achieving strategic objectives, and hesuggests where this concept has landed short of expectations. In the casesof Vietnam, Somalia, the Philippines, and other countries, he demonstratesthat it is often difficult to fit the Indirect Approach doctrine into such a widevariety of strategic and operational environments. His historical narrativecautions against applying a universal model for an Indirect Approach incounterinsurgency (COIN)—for example, the ill-fated use of Montagnardtribes as surrogates in strike operations beyond their local self-defensemissions. Moreover, mutual antagonisms between Montagnard and theSouth Vietnamese population hampered integration of the highland unitsinto the central government’s forces. There were difficulties in accommo-dating the Montagnard ways to the culture of ethnic Vietnamese. This issimilar to the challenges of nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan wherediffering cultures are attempting to be blended into a working sense ofnationhood. Just as the ethnic Vietnamese viewed with alarm the armingand training of the Montagnard people, the integrating of Sunni militias,the Sons of Iraq, into Iraq’s security effort was an unpopular step in the eyesof Shia security officials. In Somalia, the Indirect Approach emphasized the importance of localsurrogate forces for campaigns against violent extremist groups. In counter-terrorism operations, the Indirect Approach in Somalia consisted of usinglocal warlords to seize or assassinate suspects. While this may be a neces-sary way of dealing with terrorism in the Horn of Africa, author Henrik-sen believes that this approach aligned the United States with unsavoryfigures and offered little for the COIN concept of winning support amongthe greater Somali population. He also warns that as with Afghanistan,“the American way of COIN shades into rudimentary nation-building toestablish government-run social welfare services to mollify intra-nationalethnic antagonisms, and to channel political grievances toward the ballotbox.” The problem with all this is that working with and through the hostgovernment becomes nearly impossible when the government is ineffectual. vii
  • 9. And doing the basic chores of government for the host country precludes theopportunity for a host nation to truly build the engines of good government. The Somalia experience also suggests that when the host-nation govern-ment lacks political legitimacy it hampers the effectiveness of the IndirectApproach. The use of Ethiopian surrogate forces in Somalia to prop-up theTransitional Federal Government was initially useful, but as Henriksenobserves, the strategy embraced the intervention by Ethiopian forces, whichalienated the Somalis. U.S. strategy must build on local support, not resortto foreign armies to impose their will on populations. In the Philippines, our discreet and behind-the-scenes approach toassisting the government has proven successful in helping that govern-ment counter insurgency in its southern islands. In a small-scale opera-tion intended to free the American missionary couple, Martin and GraciaBurnham (taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf in 2001), U.S. forces supportedthe Armed Forces of the Philippines using an Indirect Approach. Later,American special units trained and mentored the Philippine forces, whichavoided participation in direct combat missions against insurgents. Themany successes in the Philippines are not readily transferable to otherarmed-conflict zones because of the unique historical, political, and socialcharacteristics enjoyed by the archipelago. By tracing the use of the Indirect Approach as a concept that under-girds U.S. COIN doctrine today, Henriksen illustrates how the notion ofan Indirect Approach as a strategic concept has evolved, or more accu-rately transmuted, from the classic concept advanced by B. H. Liddell Hart.The observation of trench warfare firsthand energized Hart to producea post-war book, Strategy: The Indirect Approach. By his observations ofwars, battles, and engagements throughout history, Hart concluded thatrather than attack the enemy directly with one’s forces, the forces shouldbe moved to a position of advantage before an attack begins, to dislocate theenemy, upset their equilibrium, and reduce the will to fight. The orientationhere is upon the enemy force. Today’s COIN proponents use the IndirectApproach as a sound technique that conveys a small U.S. footprint, assistsa host nation to combat an insurgency, and relies on others to partner withus—a valid and appealing idea because our forces are spread thinly and thethreats seem ubiquitous. But the fit is not exact. In unconventional warfare, surrogate forces who conduct operations areoriented upon the enemy as Hart would suggest. Whether surrogates take aviii
  • 10. direct or indirect approach to destroying the enemy is a matter of commanddecision. By working alongside surrogates, training, mentoring, and supply-ing them, we are participating in their action against insurgents. Also theidea that draining the swamp (or eliminating the root causes of insurgency)is an indirect approach is also a fuzzy use of the Indirect Approach concept.While the U.S. may be supporting a country’s internal defense and develop-ment plan, that country’s actions are quite direct. That we are supportingthe host country for our joint interests does not mean we are taking anindirect approach. Henriksen’s analysis of the use of an Indirect Approachin diverse examples is helpful for illustrating how the concept is used today,its problems, and successes. The Indirect Approach can have a positive effect when applied wisely,but the employment of surrogate forces is more that an economy-of-forcemeasure. The approach to every strategic challenge must accord with ourvalues as a nation, our national interests, and the objectives of our securitystrategies. It must also be applied in different ways to accord with the localpolitics, history, and culture. Henriksen makes a significant contribution toour strategic thinking about the Indirect Approach as a concept for counter-ing insurgency and violent extremist groups. His narrative shows that weneed to be prudent when taking the Indirect Approach. He cautions againstrote applications; each insurgency is unique and requires a thoughtful andsubtle use of the Indirect Approach. Kenneth H. Poole Director, JSOU Strategic Studies Department ix
  • 11. About the AuthorD r. Tom Henriksen is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Until September 2003, he was the associate director for program development at the Hoover Institution. His other administrativeduties included serving as executive secretary of the National Fellows andNational Security Affairs Fellows programs, as well as director of the MediaFellows Program. Dr. Henriksen also serves as a senior fellow with the JSOUStrategic Studies Department. His current research focuses on American foreign policy in the post-Cold War world, international political affairs, and national defense. Hespecializes in the study of U.S. diplomatic and military courses of actiontoward terrorist havens, such as Afghanistan, and the so-called rogue states,including North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. He also concentrates on armed andcovert interventions abroad. Dr. Henriksen is the author of American Power after the Berlin Wall(Palgrave Macmillan, October 2007). A prior published book is an editedvolume on competing visions for U.S. foreign policy, (Hoover InstitutionPress, 2001). Other works include Using Power and Diplomacy to Deal withRogue States (Hoover Essays in Public Policy, 1999) and the edited collectionNorth Korea after Kim IL Sung (Hoover Institution Press, 1999). He also authored or edited the following books and monographs: OneKorea? Challenges and Prospects for Reunification (Hoover Institution Press,1994); The New World Order: War, Peace, and Military Preparedness (HooverInstitution Press, 1992); Revolution and Counterrevolution: Mozambique’sWar of Independence (Greenwood Press, 1983); The Struggle for Zimbabwe:Battle in the Bush (Praeger, 1981); Soviet and Chinese Aid to African Nations(Praeger, 1980); and Mozambique: A History (Rex Collings, 1978). Additionally, he has written numerous journal articles and newspa-per essays concerning international politics and security as well as U.S.policy toward rogue states in the post-Cold War era. Dr. Henriksen hasalso received research grants from the American Philosophical Society,State University of New York, National Endowment for the Humanities,and National Defense Foreign Language Fellowship Program. His bookMozambique: A History was chosen for the Outstanding Book Award for xi
  • 12. African History by Choice. During 1982, he traveled to the former SovietUnion as a member of the forum for the U.S.-Soviet dialogue. Dr. Henriksen’s education and public service developed in the 1960s,specifically earning his B.A. in History from Virginia Military Institute(1962) and the M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Michigan State University(1966 and 1969). He was selected for membership in Phi Alpha Theta—thehistory honorary society—as a graduate student. During 1963-1965, Dr.Henriksen served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. He taught historyat the State University of New York from 1969, leaving in 1979 as a fullprofessor. During the 1979-1980 academic year, he was the Susan LouiseDyer Peace Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Dr. Henriksen’s national public service includes participation as amember of the U.S. Army Science Board (1984-1990) and the President’sCommission on White House Fellowships (1987-1993). He also receiveda Certificate of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service from the U.S.Department of the Army in 1990. He is a trustee of the George C. MarshallFoundation. What follows are other JSOU publications by Dr. Henriksen: a. Dividing Our Enemies (November 2005) b. The Israeli Approach to Irregular Warfare and Implications for the United States (February 2007) c. Is Leaving the Middle East a Viable Option? (January 2008) d. What Really Happened in Northern Ireland’s Counterinsurgency: Revision and Revelation (October 2008).xii
  • 13. Afghanistan, Counterinsurgency, and the Indirect Approach Forewarned, let us take the better path. — Virgil, Aeneid One can’t fight a militant doctrine with better privies. — Bernard Fall, Last Reflections on a War The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered. — Edmund Burke, Second Speech on Conciliation with AmericaA merica is embarking on a new way of war in Afghanistan and else- where in which battlefield restraint, cultural subtleties, and armed nation-building enterprises matter more than destruction of theenemy. These innovations represent a doctrinal break from how the UnitedStates historically waged war in its most heroic chapters. The new doctrinerelies heavily on the use of indigenous surrogate troops, the goodwill of thelocal people, societal reconstruction, and the host government’s legitimacy,policies, and conduct. These underpinnings of the Indirect Approach, itmust be emphasized, often lie beyond Washington’s complete control oreven limited influence. By working through—and being greatly relianton—the agency of others, the recently evolved American strategy strives todefeat insurgencies and to deny terrorists safe havens from which to launchdestructive attacks against the American people and their interests. Evenexponents of the Indirect Approach, however, acknowledge that the strategycan never substitute as an alternative for the United States to ensure its owndefense. Yet America cannot directly intervene into every planetary ungov-erned space to eliminate terrorist nests from mounting strikes against theUnited States. The costs in blood, treasure, and moral authority are too steep. Faced with an expanding registry of under-governed spaces in dys-functional states around the globe beckoning to local extremist cells or 1
  • 14. JSOU Report 10-3Al Qaeda-franchised terrorists, the United States urgently needs a strategyto combat the growing threat in an effective and reasonably inexpensivemanner. Yemen’s roots in the December 2009 attempted terrorist bombingon Northwestern Airlines flight 253 now firmly adds that Arabian Peninsulacountry to the lengthening roster of terrorist havens. Already, Pakistan, thePhilippines, and the Horn of Africa as well as Yemen have drawn muchattention from Special Operation Forces (SOF). In low-visibility missions,SOF partnered with indigenous security forces to engage terrorist cells inways well-suited to our current environment. Direct expeditionary interven-tion with a large conventional military footprint, accompanied by high-coststate-building undertakings to combat terrorist sanctuaries, will lead toAmerica’s exhaustion and insolvency. The new version of the Indirect Approach borrows heavily from therevamped counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy of the U.S. Army and MarineCorps. Local armies and police are trained in current U.S. population-centrictechniques of conducting COIN operations as they partner with Americanregular units and SOF. Although the Indirect Approach boasts many pluses,it demands substantial societal transformation, massive financial expendi-tures, and Western-oriented governments to serve as hosts for the attendantnation-building efforts. These requirements spawn troubling caveats andconcerns about fighting through the medium of a vastly transfigured politi-cal landscape. As Napoleon remarked: “War is a simple art, all a matter ofexecution.” 1 This study of shortcomings and miscalculations is intendedto hone the art of indirectly combating insurgent-based terrorism—theonly viable strategy for America’s active defense. The execution of past U.S.indirect campaigns and their implications for our current operations arethe subjects of this monograph so as to better inform its practitioners ofpitfalls to be avoided. The Indirect Approach owes its rebirth to the “surge” tactics employed inthe spectacular turnaround in the Iraq War starting in early 2007, althoughits roots date much further back. To calm the raging Iraqi insurgency, theUnited States military liberally paid, equipped, protected, and guided Sunnitribal militias, which broke with the Al Qaeda movement in Iraq becauseof its indiscriminate violence and harsh imposition of draconian religiouspractices. This central dimension of the Iraqi COIN breakthrough, alongwith the additional 28,500 combat troops associated with the surge opera-tion, profoundly reshaped U.S. military thinking, as no other event since the2
  • 15. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachVietnam War.2 Thus the Iraqi conflict ushered in an innovative approachnow being employed in Afghanistan to replicate the paradigm of enlistinglocals to fight the insurgents.3 In North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and thePhilippines the indirect way of war is also in full tilt. In reality, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps historically have drawnon indigenous auxiliaries from our nation’s earliest conflicts. Americanforces employed variants of surrogate warfare from their frontier battlesin the Western plains, the Philippine insurrection, the Nicaraguan incur-sions, and the Vietnam War. The Iraq War, however, re-catalyzed interestin COIN techniques and in the usage of host-country manpower. Despitethe unique complexities of the … the U.S. Army and Marine CorpsIraq “surge,” the U.S. Army and plan to rely on the Indirect ApproachMarine Corps plan to rely on the in Afghanistan (and beyond) byIndirect Approach in Afghani- winning over the population …stan (and beyond) by winningover the population to furnish recruits for Afghan security forces, to turnover information about the Taliban insurgents, and to bestow loyalty on aforeign created and sustained central government in Kabul. The recent history of similar campaigns should inject a note of circum-spection in this new non-Clausewitzian way of war. The 19th-centuryPrussian military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, is mostly associated inAmerican minds with the principles of conventional war calling for force-on-force application of massive violence and the utter defeat of the enemyon a battlefield. For over a century, some of his writings influenced generalsto see the object of war as simply destruction in detail of adversaries. Inreality, Clausewitz has often been misinterpreted; his writings emphasizedthe psychological aspects of warfare. But U.S. land-warfare officers normallyproclaimed in Clausewitzian language “that the road to success was throughthe unlimited application of force.” 4 Their calls for maximum lethalityprofoundly shaped U.S. military thought for decades. Now, America’s groundforces look to another doctrine for subduing insurgency by winning over thepopulation, not simply killing insurgents, which requires larger U.S. trooplevels than high-lethality conventional operations. From privates to generals fighting in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,the new doctrine has taken root that the Afghan people are to be protectedmore than the Taliban insurgents killed. Army General Stanley McChrystal,the overall commander of U.S. and NATO forces in the mountainous country, 3
  • 16. JSOU Report 10-3made his view clear on the new military metrics: “The measure of effective-ness will not be enemy killed. It will be the number of Afghans shielded fromviolence.” 5 Later, General McChrystal developed this point: “Success in thelong term, more importantly, will be when the people of Afghanistan developtrust and faith in their own government and military.” 6 As a force of 4,000Marines launched a drive to clear the Taliban from Helmand Province insummer 2009, they aimed at the well-being of the citizenry. “It is not simplyabout killing the enemy but about protecting the population and improvingtheir lives, which will help prohibit the return of the insurgent elements,”said an unidentified senior officer.7 Army Major General Mike Scaparrottideclared during Operation Khanjar (Sword Strike) initiated in July 2009:“But the fight, essentially, is about the support of the people.” 8The Ascendancy of the Indirect Approach DoctrineThe insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan have popularized the new Ameri-can way of war that emphasizes elements of nation building. This freshlyminted concept to wage indirect war against militants from Afghanistan,through the Philippines, to the Horn of Africa embodies a prophylacticapproach to terrorism. If schoolhouses, clean water wells, hard-packed roads,and medical clinics are built by Americans and staffed by U.S.-trainedindigenous peoples, the winning of hearts and minds will protect us frommore 9/11 terrorist attacks. People in the world’s peripheries, so the argumentgoes, will fight extremist movements and deny terrorists safe havens for theirnefarious activities, if we help them not only to defeat the insurgents in theirmidst but also to join the global economy and the world democracies. TheAl Qaeda network, the Taliban, and other radical adversaries fight fiercelyagainst these American-led social-reengineering schemes for a globalizedplanet. Their backward-looking ideology espouses a violent separation fromthe outside world, not integration into it. In the middle live the bulk of thepeople who wish a plague upon both houses so as to return to life beforethe conflict. The Indirect Approach to insurgency is now the ascendant strategy toconfront low-intensity conflict, whether terrorism or insurgency.9 This Indi-rect Approach relies on irregular warfare techniques and COIN capabilitiesto combat violent subversion and to protect the indigenous population. Itdemands that U.S. and local forces defeat the insurgents and then institutestreet-level protection followed by indigenous governance along Western4
  • 17. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachlines. Thus the Indirect Approach has become infused with the new COINdoctrine of re-knitting the political and social fabric in modern form. Itexceeds the norms of the Foreign Internal Defense (FID) mission of merelytraining another nation’s military to combat insurgents or even conven-tional threats. The model is to follow the sequence of “clear, hold, build, andtransfer.” But the foundation of the new doctrinal arch is the enlistment ofindigenous recruits as a surrogate army or police force to engage terroristsor insurgents alongside of, or guided by, American troops, especially SOF.Briefly put, the idea of surrogate warfare is fewer American boots on theground, a lighter military footprint, and more indigenous soldiers fightingextremists, patrolling their own countryside, and constructing peacefuldemocratic nations. Building on the foundation, the approach envisionsenhanced political governance and economic development of poor regions. Until recently the Indirect Approach and indeed COIN warfare lingeredon the Pentagon sidelines. It was ostracized and demeaned in the windowedE-Ring offices of the top brass in the five-sided defense headquarters. Theiroccupants wished it away; instead generals planned for the epic force-on-forcebattles of the 20th century. High-intensity conventional warfare representeda familiar and comfortable choice for regular Army officers, still swayed bythe World War II experience.10 Its journey to the upper wrung of militarythinking has been lengthy and arduous.11 Arguably, COIN’s nadir dates from America’s Vietnam War, where itsexponents believe it never received a fair hearing from the conventionallyminded military chiefs despite ground-level breakthroughs. Shunted asideby the mainstream Army generals, who wanted to fight the war in SoutheastAsia with helicopter-borne mobility and formidable firepower, the Pentagonrelied on the conventional sweeps and heavy shelling of an elusive enemy inAmerica’s most frustrating war.12 The journey from the Army’s establishmentof its Special Warfare Center in 1956 to today’s application of COIN practiceshas been anything but smooth. Now the United States Special OperationsCommand in Tampa, Florida stands as the most uniquely suited to planand to combat what is viewed as a global insurgency of violent extremism.13 Not even a popular and charismatic President John Kennedy could budgethe hidebound generalship in the Pentagon to embrace the new realities offighting unconventional warfare. To the 1962 graduating class of West Point,Kennedy explained: 5
  • 18. JSOU Report 10-3 There is another type of war, new in intensity, ancient in origins— wars by guerrillas, subversion, insurgents, assassins; wars by ambush instead of by [conventional] combat.… It requires … a whole new kind of strategy, a wholly different kind of force, and therefore a new and wholly different kind of military training.14 After experiments in the Vietnam War, this new strategy, force, andmilitary training rose to front-rank importance during the initial phaseof the Afghanistan intervention and then again after the stalemated Iraqioccupation from 2003 to 2006. Now the principles of COIN—1) winningthe hearts and minds of populations under insurgent threat; 2) gatheringdetailed intelligence on foes; 3) wielding psychological carrots more thanmilitary sticks; 4) and working through, with, and by non-U.S. partners—areaccepted in the uppermost reaches of the Pentagon. Two very recent examples of the Indirect Approach thrust themselvesinto military thinking out of necessity: a. In Afghanistan, the SOF partnership with the Northern Alliance during the U.S.-orchestrated intervention against the Taliban regime after the 9/11 terrorism b. In Iraq, the Army-Marine alliance with the Sunni Awakening Councils (Sons of Iraq) movement consolidated in early 2007 against extremists and the Iraqi branch of the Al Qaeda network. The stakes for America’s COIN response are lofty, but no amount of cheer-leading alone can substitute for dispassionate analyses of the threats ahead.While COIN tactics—especially allying with former insurgents—enabledthe United States first to topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and thenturn the tide of the insurgency in central Iraq, the history of conductingantiguerrilla campaigns is fraught with exceptions and caveats.15 Culture,politics, and local conditions confound any robotic application or template-like approach to neutralizing insurgents. The Indirect Approach doctrinecannot become a dogma. Make no mistake, the historical record of usingsurrogate forces cautions against operational certitude being placed in anydoctrinaire implementation of this strategy. Its application must be fromthe departure point of steely pragmatism. Given other options, the Indirect Approach does offer practical measuresand economy-of-force solutions to combat insurgencies in many of the6
  • 19. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachworld’s remote arenas, where “swamps” can breed threats to the Americanhomeland. Direct interventions encompassing the regime-change paradigmand large-scale conventional armies are impractical within areas devoidof traditional U.S. interests. Not only has the Indirect Approach proved itseffectiveness in some contemporary applications, it has few realistic alter-natives. Direct warfare, characterized by force-on-force combat operationswith lethal outcomes, embodies too many limitations. Large-unit conven-tional invasions and occupations, particularly in the volatile Middle East,ignite pitted but shadowy resistance along religious as well as political lines.Direct engagements are expensive to the United States in blood and trea-sure. Moreover, they limit our ability to leverage partnerships for Americaninterests. And more fundamentally, they fall short of dividing our potentialadversaries, as took place in Iraq when Sunni militiamen in the AwakeningCouncils fought to a standstill their co-religious brethren in the very deadlyAl Qaeda in Iraq movement.16 Obviously, the global battlefield is complex and a strict separation ofIndirect and Direct brands of warfare is unrealistic. As SOCOM CommanderAdmiral Eric T. Olson noted, the two forms “are intertwined and occurringsimultaneously.” 17 For the sake of clarity in this narrative, the two approachesare separated here, although it is acknowledged that “intertwining” oftentakes place in actual practice.Alternative Approaches to Counterinsurgencies?Some military thinkers posit that global insurgency can be defeated merelyby counterterrorism tactics without resorting to a local U.S. military presenceor to the use of surrogate forces. They advance a purely punitive approach tooverseas contingencies.18 These strictly smiting tactics, it is argued, sufficedduring the early years of the American Republic when the Barbary corsairsboarded the country’s merchantmen and took America’s seamen hostage.Frustrated but largely powerless, America’s early governments paid ransomto free the sailors or tribute to Muslim polities of Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, andMorocco to be spared assault in the first place. These payments sometimestook as much as 20 percent of the U.S. Congress’s budget. Angered aboutthe excessive cash outlays, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison used theirpresidential powers to persuade Congress to fund retaliatory expeditionsagainst the Mediterranean pirate enclaves. American warships sailed intothe harbors on the Barbary Coast to secure the release of American sailors 7
  • 20. JSOU Report 10-3or to punish the ruling pasha into “a just and lasting peace.” 19 The purelyreprisal policy largely succeeded. Cowed by the U.S. Navy’s seaborne power,the Barbary States ceased their raids on the Republic’s commerce, clear-ing a menace from the seas for the new nation’s legitimate shipping in theMediterranean. Contemporary equivalents of the 19th century counterterrorism opera-tions against today’s violent extremists, not bygone pirate enclaves, aloneare inadequate for the United States. The 1998 cruise-missile counterstrikeglaringly failed to eliminate Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Launched in retali-ation for Osama bin Laden’s twin bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenyaand Tanzania, the air bombardment was little more than a blow struck inthe air. This type of operational azimuth fails to eradicate safe havens fortoday’s terrorists who strive to unleash attacks on the American home-land with torrents of violence or even weapons of mass destruction.20 Thecounterterrorist course of action will find few adherents among reasonedmilitary thinkers. Nor will an exclusively punitive track suffice to removethe terrorist threat. Because of America’s humanitarian ideals and international standing, itis unlikely to copy the murderous tactics used in Algeria to crush the insur-gents enflamed by religious extremism during the 1990s or in Sri Lanka tocorner and destroy the Tamil Tigers (also known as the Liberation Tigers ofTamil Eelam) in 2009. The United States must think of long-term solutionsfor uprooting terrorist sanctuaries, not just striking back as was the casewith an ineffective missile response to the attacks in East Africa. Enduringresults of “draining the swamp” not merely removing the “alligators” aredemanded against enemies, who seek political kingdoms on earth accom-panied by mass casualties among their opponents’ civilian populations. Yet the strictly counterterrorist initiative has advocates. Armchair gener-als argue that the United States can deny terrorists sanctuary by “a verylight presence.” “Counterterrorism is not about occupation” argued BartleBreese Bull, the International Editor of Prospect magazine. Bull advocatesthe “combining of intelligence with specialized military capabilities.” Allthat is necessary for successes is “our intelligence and surgical strike capaci-ties.” By utilizing embassies and aid organizations (if they will cooperate)for intelligence this is all that is “needed to allow special forces to eliminateterrorist threats as they appear.” 218
  • 21. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approach An example of the surgical strike approach is today’s missile attacks orcommando-type raids within Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.Even the utilization of these deadly strikes against Al Qaeda figures orTaliban cadres, however, has failed to stem the insurgency, although it maytemporarily frustrate its unhindered execution. It has generated widespreadanger among people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who claim that innocentbystanders also died in the bombardments. Indeed the U.S.-overseen Predatorflights have been credited with eliminating over a dozen top Al Qaeda andTaliban militants.22 But the collateral deaths of innocent villagers caused abacklash that led General McChrystal to tighten the attack guidelines in a“tactical directive” for the employment of bombs, missiles, and other heavyweaponry in populated areas.23 Efforts to eliminate or decrease civilian deaths are seen as a means towin over the ordinary citizens. “Air power contains the seeds of our owndestruction, if we do not use it responsibly,” said General McChrystal.24 Thedifficulty, as COIN commanders recognize, remains how to separate themilitia targets from the civilians they deliberately hide among. The use ofhuman shields restricts the recourse to pinpoint bombings, leaving the moreprosaic but discriminate applications of firepower to on-the-ground NATO,American, or their surrogate Afghan troops. Some in the ranks concludethat “the same measures put in place to protect the civilians can protect theTaliban as well.” 25 This self-restraint policy will be sorely tested as small U.S.infantry units take casualties from Taliban fire. Squad and platoon leaderswill call for close air support to offset their inferior numbers or weaponry,while they question the official rationale for not harming civilians who areknown to resupply and shelter militants in their midst.26 The beguiling notion of counterterrorism and “surgical strike capacities”appears feasible until the hard realities dawn. Imagine U.S. forces hunker-ing down inside beleaguered forts under insistent attack and reliant on airresupply. The Taliban, Al Qaeda, and their allied warlords, of course, willnot idly stand by while being raided by America’s elite commandos (NavySEALs, Army Rangers, and other elements). U.S. bases would be constantlyinfiltrated, besieged, and isolated. How can aircraft above or commando raid-ers on the ground differentiate among combatants and bystanders? How cansuspect terrorists be identified, apprehended, questioned, and incarcerated?Where will the local intelligence come from? Only an attuned military force 9
  • 22. JSOU Report 10-3on the ground working with the indigenous population can ferret out usefulinformation for apprehension of fugitives or counterattacks on insurgents. American quick-in-and-out assaults, moreover, would be depicted aswanton depredations on hapless women, children, and ordinary Afghansgoing about their daily routines. Innocent lives, according to U.S. command-ers, are already too often taken with missile strikes from overhead drones,driving the locals into the arms of the insurgents. The almost inevitablexenophobic friction between the population and an occupation army leadsto the indigenous folks siding with the militants. Thus the local populationwould soon throw in their lot with the anti-U.S. forces. The U.S. “ink spots”would soon shrink to surrounded specs along with their influence andeffectiveness. An authoritative RAND study summarized the dangers of thissolo military approach: “Trying to crush insurgency by military brute forcealone in the Muslim world risks validating the jihadists’ claim, increasingtheir appeal, and replacing their losses.” 27 Nor do offshore bombardments or from-the-sky strikes preempt insurgen-cies. The Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff made this point whenhe discussed the military’s strategic plans for missiles with the capability tostrike any target in the world within minutes. Marine Corps General JamesCartwright spoke publicly in mid-2009 about the 5-years-in-developmentPrompt Global Strike missile that can deliver an attack “any place on theface of the Earth in an hour.” The general extolled the speed and accuracyof these transcontinental missiles and other hypersonic weapons. He notedtheir shortcomings also. Global strike is “not enough to sustain a fight.” It isa weapon targeted at one aim-point. Thus U.S. foreign-stationed and activelydeployed troops remain a necessity in an insurgent-prone world.28 Oncethere, the COIN troops recruit in-country personnel to divide their foes, winover the population, and fight the insurgents with local forces. This tactichas become the American way of war at the beginning of the 21st century.Offensive and Defensive Indirect OperationsExponents of surrogate warfare often neglect to differentiate between twotypes of this indirect method—defensive and offensive forms. The defen-sive mode is where American forces are aligned with indigenous troopsin defending a host government. They are the “forces of order.” In this role,U.S. troops are working with the host country’s armed forces to resist asecessionist movement as in the southern Philippines or antigovernment10
  • 23. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachTaliban militias in contemporary Afghanistan. American and local forcesare attempting not just to preserve political order but also to improvethe welfare of ordinary people and theirgovernment’s responsiveness to its citi- The defensive mode is wherezens. Insufficient attention to a popula- American forces are alignedtion’s political grievances and economic with indigenous troops innecessities by the host rulers undermines defending a host government.the Indirect Approach. Thus SOF and They are the “forces of order.”regular troops rely on their hosts to dis-pense state services, avoid corruption, and behave with rectitude towardtheir fellow citizens. Bettering the lot of average citizens first means safety from insurgentattacks, coercion, or intimidation. This security umbrella also encompassesprotection from the host country’s own army and police. These internalsecurity forces need training in proper conduct along with instruction inmarksmanship, patrolling, and ambushing. Inculcation of the correct treat-ment of villagers requires training, conditioning, and the example of U.S.forces. Supplying the population with amenities such as clean water, elec-tricity, roads, schools, and medical clinics forms an important dimension ofpreliminary nation-building tasks. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United Statespreceded to the next stage of state construction by fostering conditions forgood governance, political parties, fair and free elections, and constitutionalgovernment. Political integration of disaffected ethnic populations into astate lies at the crux of U.S. COIN. Much depends on host governments, nomatter how committed American resources and SOF actions. A smallerU.S. military footprint and a larger host-nation presence helps minimizethe perception of an American occupation bent on producing facsimiles ofU.S. society. Against the backdrop of a massive and growing U.S. nationaldebt, the envisioned societal reconfiguring in Afghanistan lies beyond beinga practical model for replication in the world’s many ungoverned places. Following the invasion phase in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United Statesfell prey to fierce insurgencies in which it assumed the primary combatantrole. While fighting insurgents, U.S.-led Coalition troops painstakinglyassembled surrogate military and police forces so as to implement theIndirect Approach against the sectarian killers and ethnic militias. In thesecircumstances the U.S. ground forces bought time and space for indigenousunits to be mobilized, trained, armed, and seasoned. Elsewhere—Pakistan, 11
  • 24. JSOU Report 10-3the Horn of Africa, and the Philippines—SOF and other service personnelcycled into the Indirect Approach without the necessity of engaging inlarge-scale COIN operations with scattered militants. Within the defensive mode, one further distinction can be drawn thatrequires little elaboration. It relates to the scale of the Indirect Approach.American efforts in the Horn of Africa and the Philippines, for example,exemplify a small-scale COIN model. The numbers of U.S. troops employedare modest and their visibility low. A full-throttle insurgency, by necessity,demands a much larger U.S. military presence in conflict-ridden theaters likeIraq and Afghanistan. It is obvious that the optimal arena for the IndirectApproach lies in quieter terrain, where it holds the prospect of forestalling afull-blown insurgency. Raging insurgencies offer much less scope for a trulyIndirect Approach because by necessity American land forces are directlyinvolved against the insurgents. The offensive format of the Indirect Approach was exemplified by theU.S.-led assault on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan right after the Septem-ber 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Rather than unleashing the combined armoriesof American power on the Taliban regime in Kabul for refusing to handover Osama bin Laden, the Pentagon looked to the locally rooted NorthernAlliance as a surrogate army. Implacable foes of the Taliban since losingKabul to its militia in 1996, the Northern Alliance fought on as insurgentsfor control of the mountainous country. U.S. Special Operation Forces andCentral Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents harnessed, channeled, and aidedthe Northern Alliance to topple the Taliban rule of Mullah MohammedOmar for its sheltering of bin Laden, the perpetrator of the 9/11 terrorism.On a less grand scale in Iraq, the Pentagon again resorted to marshallinglocal opponents of the Baghdad regime. During the “shock and awe” phaseof the U.S. invasion into southern Iraq, SOF tapped into the ethnic national-ism of the Kurds whose Peshmerga militia along with a Special Forces teamattacked Saddam Hussein’s army to the south. This was an approach borneof necessity. Ankara rejected Washington’s request to transit armored forcesacross Turkish territory to open a northern front in Iraq. The offensive course of action enjoys a rich and successful history.Afghanistan during the 1980s witnessed the implementation of the so-calledReagan Doctrine. In response to the Soviet invasion installing a puppetruler in mountain-bound state, President Jimmy Carter first shipped World12
  • 25. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachWar I-era Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles to the Afghan resistance. Next, whenRonald Reagan settled into the White House, he greatly stepped up militaryand financial assistance to the mujahideen (holy warriors) resistance to theSoviet occupation, culminating in the transfer of Stinger shoulder-firedantiaircraft missiles, highly effective against the Red Army’s Mi-24 Hindhelicopter gunships. Reagan’s support helped turn the tide of battle againstthe Soviet invaders who withdrew in defeat in early 1989. Reagan also aided the contras in Nicaragua against the ruling Marx-ist party of the Sandinistas. This offensive Indirect Approach allowed theUnited States to counter Soviet and Cuban influence in the Central Americannation. The CIA armed, financed, and trained Nicaraguan exiles in nextdoor Honduras to wage a guerrilla campaign in a conflict that claimed some30,000 Nicaraguan lives from 1981 to 1990. Nearby, the Reagan governmentturned to a defensive application of the Indirect Approach by providingminimal aid to the embattled government of El Salvador as it struggledagainst guerrillas bent on imposing a communist-style regime on the tinyLatin American state. Assistance—material and instructional—from theUnited States proved decisive in both Nicaragua and El Salvador. Had Wash-ington not gone to their aid, indirectly fighting communist subversion, theoutcome in Central America would have seen Soviet client regimes in thetwo countries.29 The Reagan administration additionally tried unsuccess-fully to turn back the gains of the Marxist government in Angola by aid toJonas Savimbi’s movement.30 Offensive surrogate warfare is far easier to execute than its defensivecounterpart. It usually translates into a more limited and briefer military,political, and economic presence by U.S. armed forces. Normally, arms,financing, training, shared intelligence, and sometimes the application ofdirect U.S. conventional military power are provided. The “soft” populationsteps of classic COIN are not usually a major component of the offensive phaseof operations. Standing up a government apparatus after victory forms oneingredient of post-military operations as was the case in Afghanistan afterthe Taliban defeat. The Afghan case witnessed the United States movingfrom an offensive phase to defense operations after the Taliban commencedan insurgency in the mid-2000s to take back power. 13
  • 26. JSOU Report 10-3The Indirect Approach—the Default Option NowConventional warfare tactics will not succeed in deterring and confrontinga global insurgency nor will other direct military approaches traditionallywielded against the regular armies in the great wars of the 20th century.Massive invasions, regime changes, and country occupations are as ineffectiveas they are unsustainable in an America economically hard pressed by a deeprecession and by a population wary and wearied of foreign interventions inlight of the Iraq War’s exertions. An economy-of-force prescription to secureAmerican safety and interests has become a necessity. In some sense, theIndirect Approach is America’s default option in its current struggle againstextremist-infused insurgencies in many parts of the world. Executing theIndirect Approach in different environments, therefore, requires makingadjustments at the grass-roots level. But above the tactical threshold andoften within the operational tier, if not higher in the politico-diplomaticrealm, there lurk risks and uncertainties. When any doctrine is embraced wholeheartedly, with eyes wide shut, itsadoption can give way to blinkered zealotry. The purpose of this essay is toadopt the honorable role of Devil’s Advocate to raise issues and to remindpractitioners that blind faith in a doctrine is folly. Lest any student of militaryhistory forget, the Vietnam War began for the United States as an advisoryand partner-building operation with the South Vietnamese government andarmed forces. Seeing its limited resources as doomed to fail, Washingtonescalated its commitment and backed into a multiyear, raging conflict thatsapped the nation’s well-being. The history of the U.S. Army’s official stud-ies and military intellectuals is replete with miscalculation and even tragicerror in planning for armed engagements.31 In just one example, the UnitedStates prepared to combat Soviet advances in Central Europe but woundup instead fighting to repel an invasion from the communist regime onthe Korean peninsula during the early 1950s. Caution and circumspectionabout the applicability of any overarching doctrine is in order, lest it becomea dogma. Boosterism for specific military approaches—for example, theMaginot Line—can lead to catastrophe. In short, the Indirect Approach isnot a universal silver bullet and even less so a template to be superimposedon every trouble spot without due diligence. Nor should a partnership strategy over-reach by grafting a 21st centuryAmerican societal model onto lands struggling to clamber into the modern14
  • 27. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachera. Appreciating societal and operational distinctions will aid in the appli-cation of the Indirect Approach. For example, the distinctive Iraqi surgeoperation might be considered as a ready-made model for Afghanistan.But the Indirect Approach drew from threeinterrelated factors in the Iraq insurgency Appreciating societal andthat are not yet present in Afghanistan. In operational distinctionscentral Iraq the foreign-led Al Qaeda affili- will aid in the applicationate violated cultural norms with its nearly of the Indirect Approach.indiscriminate violence, doctrinaire impo-sition of Islam, and finally, targeting for assassination Sunni tribal leaderswhen they opposed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s policies. By the end of 2006,U.S. ground forces had begun to change the military balance on the groundin the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar. Thearrival of additional combat troops early the next year gave the Americanground forces the upper hand. The U.S. reinforcements on the ground andbetter COIN tactics confronted the Sunni, which constituted only a fifth ofIraq’s population, with the prospect of defeat. Instead, their tribal militias,amply bankrolled with U.S. cash payments, joined with the Coalition forcesagainst Al Qaeda. The United States was greatly favored by the turnaroundof the Dulaimi Tribal Confederation within Anbar province in central Iraq.This large, cohesive tribal grouping laid the foundation of the “awakening,”bringing in other tribal entities.32 Conditions within Afghanistan are currently quite different from centralIraq. The Taliban observes most cultural taboos within the Pashtun commu-nity. They made a comeback in the early 2000s thanks to brutality andcorruption of Kabul’s local officials.33 The Taliban insurgents responded tolocal concerns, instituted an elementary law and order, and so far avoidedrepeating the excesses of Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist movement. Moreover,the Pashtun—the country’s largest ethnic community—deeply resent theKabul government’s abuse of power, villainy, and pervasive corruption. Norare there present today Afghan versions of the Sunni figures Abu Risha alSattar and the Dulaimi elders who spread the “awakening” from tribe to tribe.The mountains and valleys of Afghanistan enforce territorial compartmen-talization, making intertribal cooperation difficult among the fragmentedtribes with their internecine and overlapping conflicts.34 As of this juncture, U.S. and NATO forces are battling to establish suffi-cient security in the violent southeastern belt to enable local leaders to line 15
  • 28. JSOU Report 10-3up their communities against the Taliban insurgents. Notable breakthroughs,nonetheless, have taken place. In early 2010, the Shinwari people—a subtribeof the Ghilzai tribal confederation—joined with the central government in itsanti-Taliban campaign. Their cooperation marked a key realignment becauseof the Ghilzai stand, second only to the Durrani tribal confederation amongthe Pashtun. Moreover, the Durrani already has many members holdingsenior posts in the Harmid Karzai (who himself comes from the Durranibranch) government.35 Thus the Shinwari conversion to the government sidepoints toward other Ghilzai subtribes taking the same step. West of Kabul, ina less violent arena, the Public Protection Programs (PPPs) have also begunto marshal community self-defense units known as Guardians against theinsurgents. Started in early 2009, the PPPs will face a daunting environmentin the Taliban-contested zones along the Pakistan border, across which theinsurgents enjoy sanctuaries for recruitment, training, and regrouping. Backing and relying on tribal elements or local village forces is a double-edged sword, it could be argued, for the policy cuts at cross purposes withthe overarching goal of forging national institutions, such as multiethnic andmerit-based police, army, and civil authority structures. Tribal arrangements,to this way of thinking, are anachronistic; they look to ancient customsand practices that have little to contribute to modern states dependent oncentral governments. Matching ends and means—the ongoing calculus ofCOIN—applies especially in the Indirect Approach. As a practical matter,tribes capture their member’s loyalty, administer rough justice, and fieldmilitias that can deal a blow to the Taliban and establish stability in thecountryside. They represent innate, formed, and ready-to-use forces to wageanti-insurgency struggles. Beyond the Iraq conflict there are other places where the U.S. militarybacked the Indirect Approach that are worthy of our attention. The purposeof this monograph, therefore, is to examine three modern case studies wherethe Indirect Approach faired poorly or, at the least, raised concerns. Its usein Vietnam and the Horn of Africa witnessed shortcomings in surrogatewarfare. The third case, the Philippines, is arguably a success story, evensomewhat a model for other applications of the Indirect Approach. Yet it toomanifests some warnings about the universality of relying on other forcesand their governments to wage surrogate warfare to a satisfactory conclusion.At the least, the drawbacks, even unintended consequences, of American16
  • 29. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachCOIN practices cum-nation-building endeavors must serve as yellow cautionlights as the U.S. military peers ahead toward a troubled horizon.Vietnam and the Aborted Indirect ApproachAmerica’s Vietnam War offers up many lessons for COIN operations. Thatconflict still stands as the contemporary starting point for examiningCOIN practices. America possesses a long history in waging small warsand antiguerrilla fights stretching from engagements with British regulars,to Native Americans on continent’s frontiers, and onto incursions aroundthe Caribbean. But its large-scale conventional wars in the first half of the21th century erased much of the memory and doctrine for COIN of earlierperiods. Vietnam, as we now know, was the call that reawakened the U.S.Army to the necessity of COIN, although it was a long time in answeringthe “phone.” America’s military involvement in Southeast Asia started evenbefore the 1954 defeat of France’s colonial rule in Indochina. In time, theUnited States unveiled a quintessential experiment in the Indirect Approachor surrogate warfare. In late 1961, U.S. Army Special Forces began sustained contact with theRhade tribe of the Montagnard people living in South Vietnam’s CentralHighlands. By that date, the Montagnard communities felt the pressure ofthe Viet Cong (a contraction for Vietnamese Communists) insurgents andthe South Vietnamese authorities. Located along the border of Cambodiaand Laos, the Montagnard habitat fell athwart the Viet Cong’s infiltrationroutes from north to south, which recorded increased foot traffic by 1959.The Viet Cong preyed on the upland people’s dissatisfaction with the centralgovernment in Saigon and tried to recruit tribesmen to its guerrilla ranks.When the Montagnards stayed aloof, they came under attack by the VietCong. The Montagnards were also threatened by government-sponsoredresettlement schemes of ethnic Vietnamese on their lands. Saigon dispatchedsome 80,000 refugees fleeing the communist North Vietnam onto Montag-nard localities after the 1954 Geneva Accords divided the country. The twodistinct peoples shared neither ethnicity nor language or culture and reli-gion. For the Montagnards’ part, they resented the encroachments by thelowland Vietnamese on their agricultural lands and hunting grounds. TheVietnamese, on the other hand, held the highlanders in contempt as savageswho lived simple lives and shifted from area to area for fresh soil and forestswithout establishing an advanced sedentary civilization. 17
  • 30. JSOU Report 10-3 To block the infiltration route as well as to secure the borderlands, theSpecial Forces armed, trained, and organized village defenses among theMontagnard volunteers from December 1961. During the first year of theGreen Beret efforts, scores of highlanders’ established village-based self-defense forces under the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) Program.Often the Montagnard recruits within the CIDG ranks repulsed Viet Congassaults, although some villages did fall to the attackers. The defenders honedtheir fighting capabilities and others learned techniques for intelligence-gathering, scouting, psychological operations, and military instruction.The Green Beret units also assisted with medical treatment, farming, andeducation. The U.S. military training and civic action programs won over themountain people who defended themselves, swore allegiance to the Saigongovernment, and even founded programs to rehabilitate former Viet Congsympathizers. In time, the indigenous people formed their own health care,agricultural, and militia training cadres that geometrically expanded thescope of the American staff, which won the confidence of the locals whiledeveloping their martial and noncombatant skills. Funded and armedlargely by the CIA, the Special Forces possessed flexibility away from theregular Army bureaucracy for their paramilitary projects.36 Special Forces units operating in the mist-shrouded Central Highlandsamong the Montagnard tribesmen did grasp the nature of rural revolution-ary warfare. Their rice-roots-based self-defense communities, augmentedwith military civic action and psychological warfare soon locked out VietCong from parts of the highlands. The Special Forces COIN mission maderapid headway in rising up a surrogate force; it trained, armed, and helpedover 35,000 Montagnards establish their own village defenses.37 Even with all the CIDG’s progress, the regular U.S. Army commandharbored deep misgivings about the role played by the CIA in financing,supplying, and directing the bottoms-up effort, setting the stage for a policyshift. This command also desired to move from a defensive pacificationorientation to an offensive stance. The Military Assistance Command,Vietnam (MACV), the powerful U.S. unified command framework for allmilitary forces in the South, pushed for a war of massive assault to “find,fix, and kill” the enemy. Therefore, MACV removed Special Forces fromtheir village defense mode to a role supporting the offensive operations ofthe U.S. military forces rapidly steaming into South Vietnam by mid-1965.18
  • 31. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachThe CIDG villages that did not collapse into disarray were integrated intothe larger Strategic Hamlet Program, which after 1962 attempted to resettlethe larger Vietnamese rural population into protected enclaves to dry upthe sea in which the guerrilla fish swam. The Viet Cong guerrillas quicklyinfiltrated the Strategic Hamlets hollowing out their resistance or directlybesieging them until they fell. Other problems plagued the Strategic Hamlets. Some peasants werecompelled to relocate into hamlets; the compensation for the forced resettle-ment was never paid. Inside in what were to be defensible perimeters, thepoorly trained inhabitants frequently refused to fight off the Viet Cong.Some simply turned over their weapons to the insurgents. The StrategicHamlet effort, while appealing in theory, resulted in alienation from, andanger at, the Saigon government. The Strategic Hamlet Program, if not theidea of defending rural communities from the Viet Cong, died with theDiem regime when it was toppled in November 1963.38 Even before the Strategic Hamlets failure, the American-led political andmilitary overhaul undermined the Montagnard success story. Under the 1963Operation Switchback, highland ethnic villages reverted to Saigon’s controlas exercised through its South Vietnamese Special Forces, who lacked theproper training, competence, and political sensitivity to step into the breachcreated by the transfer. The transfer alienated the Montagnards and soonscuttled the CIDG Program.39 The Montagnards and Vietnamese dislikedeach other immensely. The South Vietnamese government and militarilywere unprepared to take up the Indirect Approach of the Green Berets. Theyresented the autonomy enjoyed by the Montagnards since French colonialrule. The Viet Cong, moreover, took advantage of the antagonism. NorthVietnam deployed skilled propagandists to the south. They collected taxes,conscripted labor, and used terrorism whenever necessary by eliminatingvillage headmen, school teachers, and civil authority from the south. Theregular South Vietnamese soldiers also presented a problem. Their brutality,petty thievery, and general disorderliness torpedoed U.S. COIN efforts andexacerbated tensions with the Montagnards. Operation Switchback also changed the focus from defensive, village-grounded security to offensive and overtly military operations into VietCong areas and to the development of border-surveillance missions. Theoperation’s tight timelines did not permit an adequate period to prepare theMontagnards for their new roles. Critics at the time registered concerns that 19
  • 32. JSOU Report 10-3Montagnards were being used as mercenaries in strike operations beyondtheir local zones to the neglect of the earlier successful missions as villagemilitia intended for local protection. Finding, fighting, and defeating theViet Cong became the new orientation rather than sticking with the Montag-nards’ proven model and building slowly a new force of the tribal warriors. In examining the Montagnard case study for its wider application, mili-tary thinkers and SOF practitioners ought to be aware of its limitations.Integrating the Montagnard units into the greater Vietnamese army wasrisky without a sea change in Saigon’s thinking and military forces. First,the Vietnamese mentality lacked the sensitivity needed to accommodatethe Montagnard culture. Second, even the Vietnamese special forces wereunprepared for the role of indirectly guiding surrogate units under theircommand in a COIN campaign. American military behavior also possessedsevere limitations. Regular U.S. Army instructors raised a South Vietnamesearmy that reflected an American conventional military. Other factors bedev-iled a smooth transition from U.S. Green Beret tutelage of the Montagnardsto a South Vietnamese one. The Republic of Vietnam’s district and provincial administrative machin-ery creaked along while being hampered with endemic corruption and fearof Viet Cong murder and intimidation that engulfed much of the South’ssociety. A call to reform Vietnamese society constituted a nation-rebuildingmission of enormous proportions. Dealing with intertribal antagonisms thatwere manifested in corruption, abuse, and violence is an essential part ofCOIN that soon blends into the much larger task of nation-building alongWestern lines. Counterguerrilla tactics alone are not COIN. The full arrayof COIN measures in Vietnam encompassed erecting civic institutions,medical clinics, and schoolrooms as well as self-defense capacities—in shortstate-building steps. State-building is a Herculean undertaking demandingdecades-long commitment, large sums of money, and strategic patience.Amid a raging insurgency, social and political reconstruction difficul-ties are compounded. National reconstruction in Vietnam lay beyond theAmerican resources, understanding, and timeframe. As such, the VietnamWar offers a cautionary pause to any counterinsurgent campaign in severelyunderdeveloped and violent lands. One drawback that later emerged from analyses of the Montagnard casenoted the poor results from the altered military role played by the tribalwarriors after Operation Switchback. MACV dropped the village defense20
  • 33. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachmilitia concept almost entirely for the Montagnard units. Instead, thepowerful American headquarters just outside Saigon replaced it with anoffensive mission against the Viet Cong. The change in orientation madethem less effective in their former COIN mode. Analysts observed thatthe CIDG no longer functioned as a home guard but as strike forces. Oneexpert, Douglas Blaufarb, commented: “In this role they were close to beingmercenaries, something rather different from their original role, and fromthe viewpoint of the counterinsurgency, not as useful [italics added].” 40 TheVietnam experience demonstrated how difficult it became to move from asuccessful local-based indigenous protection force to an offensive one withouta loss of effectiveness in the overall anti-insurgency effort. Practitioners of the Indirect Approach, nonetheless, must be wary ofprojecting universal lessons from the Montagnard case study for severalreasons. The Montagnards numbered only around 600,000 amongst alarger Vietnamese population of 20 million. The tribesmen organized intothe village self-defense units tallied between 35,000 to 50,000 in the early1960s, when the Vietnamese forces stood at approximately 200,000. Butlater during the Vietnamization phrase of the war, the South VietnameseArmy reached half a million troops, with slightly less in the reserves. TheMontagnard constituency, while significant, was still small in comparisonwith the overall armed forces. More crucially, the independent orientationof the Montagnards was sharply at odds with the all-encompassing writof Saigon. This go-it-alone streak away from—or distrust toward—thecentral government is shared in Afghanistan and other nations plaguedwith contemporary insurgencies. The tribal-or-national approach to COINalso forms part of the debate in Afghanistan, where advocates of relyingon tribal units square off against exponents of forging a national army andpolice force to combat the Taliban.41 Another caveat about the exemplary Montagnard project requires noting.As an unintended consequence, the Special Forces contributed to some ofthe Montagnards’ resistance to the central government. By organizing thetribesmen into cohesive units, the special ops troops contributed to theirseparatism from the larger society. Christopher Ives in his study of thehighland COIN program concluded: “Indeed, the intercession by the Ameri-can Special Forces soldiers strengthened the nascent ethno-nationalism ofthe minority communities with both the rearming of the highlanders andthrough the civic action efforts that affected development.” 42 Therefore, a 21
  • 34. JSOU Report 10-3contribution to U.S. surrogate warfare can result in less than productiveoutcomes when trying to foster unity across subgroups in an insurgency.It makes the overall COIN campaign tricky to implement across a patch-work of clans, tribes, sects, or ethnic communities. As U.S-orchestratedCOIN inclines toward nation-building endeavors, the integration of distinctpeoples presents a challenge, especially because the Indirect Approach mayemphasize separateness to harness martial qualities against insurgents. SOFimplementers of the Indirect Approach must ask themselves: Is it betterto defeat the local insurgent band or to build a nationwide anti-insurgentarmy? Does building a national security force impede the overall missionto defeat the militants? Often the two starkly drawn contrasts are absent,and the answer is to build one tribe at a time within a national framework. The defeat of the Republic of Vietnam 2 years after the American militarydeparture entailed far-reaching implications for the United States and itsCOIN proficiency. Along with an isolationist swing inward and deep politi-cal disenchantment among the American electorate, the unpopular conflictalso saw the turning away from the complexities of COIN warfare amongthe Army establishment, which resolved never again to become entangledin a guerrilla conflict. Conventional armor and air power incisions, likethose in the Persian Gulf War and the opening months of the Iraq War,won the admiration of the Pentagon war planners. Not until the expand-ing insurgency in Iraq provoked soul-searching among U.S. officers did theArmy and the Marine Corps introduce change in its operations, draft thenew Counterinsurgency Field Manual, and relearn the utility of the IndirectApproach to insurgency.The Surrogate Experience in IraqThe Indirect Approach—both among the Montagnards and even the regularSouth Vietnamese forces—met setbacks as noted in the preceding paragraphs.One of the chief problems was the integration of irregular units made up ofan ethnic minority into a national force. Neither the Montagnards nor theSouth Vietnamese received much in the way of practical preparation. Indeedthe very training and fielding of the Montagnards by the U.S. Special Forcesunwittingly exacerbated their animosity toward the greater Vietnamesecommunity, who they feared and loathed. This experience 40 years agowas not behind us in the Iraq War; indeed the past was merely prologue.22
  • 35. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approach The difficulty in reintegrating distinct minorities into larger nationalforces was seen again in post-surge Iraq. As violence ebbed in Iraq, theUnited States pressured the Shiite-dominated central government of PrimeMinister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to welcome back the Sunni peoples into thenational fold. Among Iraq’s 27 million people, about 60 percent are Shia, 20percent Sunni, and the remainder Kurds and much smaller ethnic groups.The Maliki government relied mainly on Shiite Iraqis for its power and forits security forces. As the insurgency slackened, the Pentagon urged theformation of a single military force to promote national unity. Specifically, the U.S. military pressed for incorporation of Sunni militias,which had battled Al Qaeda insurgents, into Baghdad’s security apparatus.This would require the Baghdad government to open its army and policeranks to the “Sons of Iraq” units that the United States formerly subsidizedas part of the surge operation to bring peace and stability to central Iraq atthe start of 2007. The role of the Sons of Iraq (or the Awakening Councils)proved crucial to the American-organized COIN. Reintegrating these anti-AlQaeda forces into the overall Iraqi Security Forces, nonetheless, presentedproblems in implementation. Despite its massive military presence on whichthe Iraq government depended for its security, the United States had to workthrough hesitant Baghdad officials to secure the incorporation of the Sunnimilitias into the country’s armed forces.43 Fearful of the Sunni minority for its role in Saddam Hussein’s repressiveregime, the Shiite authorities proved reluctant to forget and forgive theirpast tormentors. In the end, the Maliki government only slightly gave wayto the American military’s insistence. His government continued to arrestAwakening leaders through 2009. It also disbarred nearly 500 candidatesmany with ties to Saddam Hussein’s former regime from running in theMarch 2010 parliamentary election. The detentions and exclusions stirredanxiety in the greater Sunni community,despite an appeals court’s decision to As of this writing, the historicaloverturn the ban on the candidates.44 jury is still out on the decisionEthnic harmony is essential for Iraq’s about Iraq’s continued unity.territorial integrity. As of this writing,the historical jury is still out on the decision about Iraq’s continued unity.The goal is still incomplete. Tensions cut across all ethnic communities asthey jockey for power, positions, and prosperity. In the north, the Kurdish 23
  • 36. JSOU Report 10-3population longs for its own ultra-autonomy, if not outright independence.The centrifugal forces within Iraq that exploded with the ouster of SaddamHussein have yet to abate. The Southeast Asian history of micro-nationalism might repeat itselfthousands of miles distant and four decades from the Vietnam experience.Signs of ethno-nationalism conflicting with national unity have repeatedlysurfaced in Iraq. Assessments of post-American withdrawal point towarddifficulties in fashioning a unified country. The Persian Gulf country remainssharply divided among Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish populations. These ethnicdivisions defined the insurgency and they persist today. The Iraqi SecurityForces (ISF) lack a national ethos to insulate them from the political influ-ence of sectarian political movements. Instead of conducting themselvesas a national army, the Iraqi military is being pulled and politicized byethno-sectarian parties, setting the stage for eventual disintegration ofIraq in a post-American civil war. One study pointed out that as Americancommanders prepare to exit the country, their ability is slipping away tosteer “the ISF toward the direction of loyalty to the state.” 45 In Afghanistan,ethnic divisions, especially against the majority Pashtun tribes, bedevil thenecessary harmony for a united COIN front. In Vietnam, the Green Berets won the Montagnards’ admiration andrespect for their sharing the dangers and hardships of village life. Thisloyalty was not readily transferable to the Vietnamese Special Forces, whotook over for the Americans under Operation Switchback. Intangible quali-ties—like trust, goodwill, or allegiance—are fragile and not easily trans-planted especially in ethnically split societies marked by ancient mistrust,hatred, and long bouts of bloodshed. Countries with dense vegetation orsteep mountains inhibit national unity, making it even more treacherousto build nations among separated and fearful ethnic communities. Someof the difficulties in South Vietnam offer a major caveat to SOF engagedin overseas contingency operations against violent extremists. Buildingdistinct, cohesive military forces within an ethnic or village community isone thing; later integrating these same units into a national framework isquite another type of endeavor. Planning for eventual national solidarityconstitutes an element of a well-laid approach in the artful practice of COIN.In the short term, pragmatism, nevertheless, dictates a strategy of defeatingthe insurgents before attempting to fashion an integrated national societyalong modern lines.24
  • 37. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachThe Somalia EpisodeOn the other side of the world, the Horn of Africa, and within it, Somaliaspecifically offers a more recent example of a less than resounding successstory for the indirect way of war against violent extremism. The Horn ofAfrica, a huge geographical area, is marked by a discontented population,grinding poverty, and weak or unpopular governments. Roughly 165 millionpeople inhabit this expanse that is made up of six countries—Djibouti,Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan. For centuries, the Horn ofAfrica served as a gateway to Africa from the Middle East. It lies just a shortboat ride across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula.Outside its urban centers, little economic development is evident in thisdesolate and arid zone about a fifth the size of the United States. Just to its south, Tanzania and Kenya were victims of the Al Qaida-orches-trated 1998 embassy bombings. Additionally, Kenya was the scene of terroristattacks on a hotel and an Israeli airliner in 2002. These attacks emanatedfrom neighboring Somalia. Being devoid of an effective central governmentsince the 1991 coup removed the military strongman, Muhamed Siad Barre,Somalia served as a terrorist transit zone. Somalia also harbors burgeoningfundamentalist Islamic movements, which became more prominent withthe passing of its military ruler. While some groups are merely reformist,others have taken up the jihad (holy war) cause against their countrymenand foreign aid workers. Strife is now endemic to the Texas-sized country.Ethnic Somalis also spill across the country’s borders with Djibouti, Kenya,and especially Ethiopia, exacerbating tensions within them as they maketerritorial claims on their foreign hosts for a Greater Somalia. Somalia is a badly fractured country. The northern corner fell under Brit-ish colonial rule for nearly a century until its independence in 1960. Beforeits self-rule, the southern strip suffered under Italian colonialism. A mergerof the two territories never really took hold. A quintessential failed state,Somalia hosts all the pathologies and problems associated with Africa andthe nearby Middle East. Divided by clans and warlords, the Muslim countryis anarchic. Its near collapse, in fact, prompted two parts of the country tosplit off from Somalia—Puntland and Somaliland—to the north and eastof the rump state. Both these territorial offspring remained relatively moretranquil than their parent, which has received the most antiterrorist atten-tion from the United States. 25
  • 38. JSOU Report 10-3 While Somalia is nearly devoid of internal stability, its political gyra-tions reverberate regionwide. Efforts to reconcile its clan factions led to anAmerican setback in 1993, when a SOF raid to capture the notorious warlordMohammed Aidid’s lieutenants ran into fierce resistance in the streets ofMogadishu, the seaside capital. After two Blackhawk helicopters were shotdown by small-arms fire and 18 elite U.S servicemen were killed in the dustystreets, the Clinton White House called off its nation-building experimentand pulled American forces out 6 months later.46 The American withdrawalencouraged Osama bin Laden, who noted Washington’s retreat in his 1996chilling fatwa threatening “Crusaders and Zionists” with destruction.47 Nextthe United Nations departed. The country soon plummeted downward inchaos, virtually unnoticed by the outside world.Somalia after 9/11Just as the 9/11 attacks revived Pentagon interest in the southern Philippineislands (to be described below) and other potential terrorist sanctuaries,they also concentrated attention on Somalia and the greater Horn of Africa.The Defense Department decided to preclude the growth of likely terroristsafe havens in the Horn by dispatching military forces to the region. In June2002, it stood up the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)in the tiny wedge of country, Djibouti. Known before its independence in1977 as French Somalia, Djibouti fronts on the Red Sea just where it opensinto the Gulf of Aden and beyond to the Indian Ocean. The tiny state hasless than a million inhabitants. Fort Lemonier became the home for some1,800 U.S. troops and a French Foreign Legion brigade. U.S. forces also stageoperations from bases in Kenya (Manda Bay) and Ethiopia (Bilate, Hurso,and Gode). Operating mainly from a former Foreign Legion outpost, theAmerican mission centered on human and signal intelligence acquisition,humanitarian endeavors, and chiefly military training of African soldiersfor counterterrorism. Or as stated by its occupants, its job is “waging peace”in lands afflicted by starvation, disease, lawlessness, violence, poverty, andAl Qaeda.48 The Bush administration earmarked $100 million in 2003 for an anti-terrorism campaign by boosting the civil and security capabilities withinthe states in the Horn. The financial assistance to Africa and the Djiboutipost served as a forerunner to the 2007 announcement of the U.S. AfricaCommand (AFRICOM), the latest and sixth geographical combatant26
  • 39. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachcommand. To a degree greater than its sister commands, AFRICOM is toimplement jointly with the Department of State and other civilian agenciesthe so-called 3-D approach to chaotic arenas, fragile states, and potentialinsurgency—combining defense, diplomacy, and development. The CJTF-HOA remains a microcosm of the continental enterprise for 53 nations. Nipping an insurgency in the bud, as often asserted, is deemed the mosteffective means of preventing extremists taking root in receptive soil. Onceit becomes entrenched, the COIN costs more in lives, money, and tears. Topreempt low-intensity conflicts in the Horn, the CJTF-HOA has employeda mix of measures, such as the use of surrogate forces and of hearts-and-minds measures to win over the loyalty of the population. Winning popularsympathy requires first protection and security for people from insur-gent attacks or intimidation. Next the bestowing of human services to thegeneral population figures prominently among champions of benign COIN.Fresh water, electricity, medical and veterinarian care, passable roads, andschools—all rank high as necessary services to convince citizens that thegovernment has their best interests at heart. Therefore, the American wayof COIN shades into rudimentary nation-building to establish government-run social welfare services, to mollify intra-nation ethnic antagonisms, andto channel political grievances toward the ballot box—all enterprises seenat work in Afghanistan. Tapping indigenous troops for all these civil-engagement missions isprimary. Host governments and local forces win legitimacy by protecting andaiding ordinary citizens. Governments likely to succumb to insurgents areperceived as remote, uncaring, brutal, and corrupt. The idea is to strengthenindigenous institutions and to train their officials in the proper conduct.Soldiers, police, and civilian authorities have to win the hearts and mindsof their fellow citizens, not alienate them through highhandedness, villainy,or cruelty. Thus the American way of COIN flows directly into social-reen-gineering of societies with a high dose of American ideals. The transferenceof strictly military skills will not suffice; the goal for counterinsurgents is touse “every opportunity to help the populace and meet its needs and expecta-tions,” as outlined in the Counterinsurgency Field Manual.49 Foreign soldiers are rarely trusted or truly welcomed for long stretches,particularly when considered an army of occupation. Nationalism andxenophobia lurk just beneath the surface. Locals view foreigners as occu-piers or at least outsiders, something that insurgents play upon to incite 27
  • 40. JSOU Report 10-3resistance. Therefore, the Indirect Approach emphasizes the importance oflocal surrogate forces for campaigns against violent extremism. In practice,the United States violated its own established principle of classic COIN inSomalia not long ago but it had little alternative to prevent the takeover ofthe extremist movement. Within the Horn of Africa, the Djibouti base quickly assumed an activehand in combating Islamist insurgents bent on fashioning Taliban-styletheocracies in the parched lands to its west. Thus it served as a springboardto counterattack militants threatening Somalia as it plunged into instability.Virtual chaos prevailed in Somalia since the 1991 coup toppled Siad Barre,the country’s dictator since a 1969 military takeover. Washington brieflyintervened into Somalia in mid-1992 at the head of the United Nations reliefmission to feed the starving and destitute population. The humanitarianrelief saved hundreds of thousands of destitute Somalis from death. TheUnited States withdrew the bulk of its 28,000 troops starting in early 1993and officially turned over further food distribution to the United Nations inMay. Due to the State Department instigating an elementary form of nation-building, the U.S. military forces fell victim to “mission creep” moving fromstraightforward food distribution to policing missions to bring reconciliationamong the warring clans.50 This militarized diplomacy culminated in the 3October 1993 urban battle in the streets of Mogadishu, as noted on page 26. Over the next decade, Somalia descended into anarchy as rival warlordsfought turf battles to establish tyrannical fiefdoms in which to shakedown thepopulace for bribes or ransom. A spate of flawed and short-lived governmentscame and quickly passed from the political scene without leaving a trace oforder or reconciliation. Various extremist groups, some with alleged linksto Al Qaeda, jockeyed for power against venal warlords. Jihadism becameespecially associated with al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI—the Islamic Union),a band of Wahhabi militants who killed, coerced, and intimidated in thecause of establishing an Islamic emirate in the dusty country. Later AIAIdisappeared as an identifiable organization in Somalia, a not uncommonoccurrence among radical groups in the Horn.51 One Al Qaeda-affiliatedcell facilitated the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar esSalaam. Later militants from the same cell attacked a tourist hotel on theKenyan coast in 2002 and attempted to shoot down an Israeli charter planewith missiles. From Somali bases, other jihadis, connected to Al Qaeda andfunded by Islamic charities in the Arabian Peninsula, staged terrorist attacks28
  • 41. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachinside Ethiopia. In response, Addis Ababa labeled the Somali governmentas complicit in the raids and backed the formation of opposition factionswithin Somalia. Somalia’s turmoil hastened its neighbors to hold talks in Kenya aboutforming a new governing coalition to avert a political and human catas-trophe that might engulf them as well. The resulting entity called itselfthe Transitional Federal Government (TFG). It constituted the fourteenthgovernment formed since General Siad Barre’s ouster. The U.N.-backed TFG,at first stationed in Kenya, relocated not to Mogadishu but to the south-ern town of Baidoa in June 2005. The new governing body considered thecapital too violent for its headquarters; instead it took up residence in thehardscrabble town 150 miles away. Once on Somali soil, the TFG encoun-tered stiff resistance from Islamic movements that despised its moderate,secular political orientation. The extremist fighters soon placed the TFG inprecarious circumstances.U.S. Counterterrorism through an Indirect ApproachFor the United States, the prevailing chaotic conditions initially openedthe way for clandestine counterterrorism operations. These antiterrorismexertions depended less on working with and building up political factionleaders than on establishing contacts with knowledgeable informants. TheCIA relied on former military and police officials in Somalia for informationand assistance in identifying and removing terrorist fugitives. Developingthis local counterterrorism capacity dovetailed with a variant of the IndirectApproach strategy. Rather than U.S. military personnel building local alli-ances and training surrogate forces, CIA operatives dealt with anti-Islamistwarlords and other opponents of the violent extremists. The covert officersmade contact with and payments to their allies-for-hire. These methodsled to the apprehension of several jihadis. Among the highest level terror-ist was Salim Ahmed Hemed (a.k.a. Issa Tanzania), who helped coordinatethe attack on the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya in November 2002.Militiamen loyal to a pro-American faction leader arrested Salim Hemedin Mogadishu and handed him over to U.S. agents, who placed him behindbars in Afghanistan. Other terrorist facilitators were similarly captured andturned over to U.S. custody.52 By blending into the background, U.S. intelligence agents tracked downand took terrorists off the streets by getting locals to seize or assassinate 29
  • 42. JSOU Report 10-3suspects. To locate Al Qaeda fugitives, the United States made commoncause with Somali warlords. These espionage operations demanded detailedintelligence and payoffs. Like police officers, undercover operators neededinformants. The behind-the-scenes involvement sought to minimize thenegative reaction inside Somalia and outside from other states, which bris-tled at any American direct intervention in the affairs of Islamic nations.In carrying out this objective, the counterterrorism campaign, however,contributed to the prevailing conflicts among warlords, jihadi elements, AlQaeda militants, and Ethiopian security forces, which carried out their ownmanhunts against Somali rebels originally from Ethiopia. Reconciliation,let alone stability, fell by the wayside in the pursuit of terrorist mastermindsand facilitators.53 The breakdown of governance in Somalia, in fact, created a politicalvacuum and left a near-free fire zone among contending factions. Frequentmurders and abductions of locals or foreigners for ransom went not onlyunsolved but also unattributable to specific assailants. In this deadly atmo-sphere, several Somali sources, some working for the transition govern-ment and/or U.S. counterterrorism units, met untimely ends in back-alleyshootings as the rate of violence accelerated by late 2004. This dirty war ofreciprocal killings formed a backdrop to the political maneuvers and therise of extremist forces. Counterterrorism in this instance blew back onany long-range hopes for a semblance of stability and normality returningto Somalia. Bribing warlords for tips on terrorists, nevertheless, flopped as a strategyto defeat the enemies of the U.N.-backed governments within the volatilenation. The paid-off warlords by 2006 turned out to be a bad bet becausethey and their teenage henchmen terrorized the populations, therebygaining converts for the Islamist militias. Ordinary citizens and businessowners yearned for peace, tranquility, and freedom to move about withoutconstantly paying bribes to thugs.54 As a counterterrorism tactic, the cashtransfers for information about shady types or taking terrorists into custodywas an effective tool. But as a COIN method to “dry up a swamp,” instead italigned the United States with unsavory figures. Clan warlords and formermilitary figures were unsuitable for a hearts-and-minds program to copewith a spreading insurgency that capitalized on many people’s hunger forpeace and stability, even though they rejected the militiamen’s extremistviews of Islam. One authoritative study noted: “The strict, Wahhabist practice30
  • 43. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachof Islam in neighboring Gulf States was largely unknown in Somalia andconsidered foreign to Somali culture.” 55 By early 2006, hard-line Islamist groups gained popularity by establishingIslamic courts to try warlords and their teenage assailants who they heldresponsible for peace-breaking and shaking-down the populace for money.The Islamists also raised the volume on their anti-Western rhetoric andassassinated several officials, business owners, and peace advocates. Theirrough justice brought a tenuous stability that appealed to average peopleand merchants, who were frazzled and fatigued by long bouts of warlord- ism, corruption, and intimidation. TheSomalia appeared headed for a CIA’s funding of anti-Islamist warlordsTaliban-styled regime in the first fell short of halting the extremists fromdecade of the 21st century. tightening their grip on the country.Somalia appeared headed for a Taliban-styled regime in the first decade ofthe 21st century. Somalis looked for strong rule, no matter how repugnant its values were,to counter the banditry and lawlessness that prevailed even within Moga-dishu. These Hobbesian conditions bred receptivity for the order imposedby the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a coalition of hard-line and moderatereligious factions. The Islamic Courts movement took root in the southernreaches of Somalia and even in some neighborhoods of the capital by 2005.These courts filled the political vacuum, and they rigidly enforced shari’a, orIslamic law, on their subjects. They meted out severe justice to transgressorsof these legal and religious codes that forcefully imposed a modicum of lawand order in their jurisdictions. They also won converts to their governanceby setting up charities and schools.56 Less appealing were strict policies bythe Islamic Courts and their pitiless militias, which enforced the rigoristview of Islam. They shuttered cinemas, barred people from watching thesoccer World Cup, and held public amputations or stonings of violators oftheir stark religious views. The loosely gathered courts movement was alsopopulated with opportunists who just wanted to make money or enjoyedterrorizing the population. Still others wanted an end to the constant turmoil.The clan lords, albeit on the defensive, fought back against their religiouslymotivated foes. Indeed both sides attracted freelance gunmen who alignedthemselves for a salary and a daily supply of khat, a leafy stimulant widelychewed by Somalis.57 31
  • 44. JSOU Report 10-3 An assortment of warlords and their clans formed an opposition frontto the ICU militants. The Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Coun-ter-Terrorism (ARPCT) received clandestine help from the United States.In return, ARPCT went after Al Qaeda fugitives on behalf of their U.S.financiers. Charges and countercharges flew back and forth over whetherthe ICU harbored Al Qaeda operators or whether the ARPCT gimmickedaccusations just to gain U.S. assistance. The Pentagon squarely came downon the side of its allied warlords. It offered the alliance chieftain as much as$4 million for the capture of such Al Qaeda leaders as Tariq Abdallah (a.k.aAbu Talha al-Sudani). Among the high-value figures handed over to the U.S.authorities was Gouled Hassan Dourad, who headed a Mogadishu-rootednetwork that operated in support of Al Qaeda.58 The CIA-allied proxiesresponded to the cash bounties by pursuing the terrorist fugitives. ARPCTalso fought the Islamic militias in Mogadishu’s rubble-strewn streets in early2006. In June the Islamic militants, nevertheless, swept over the holdoutsections of the capital, putting the alliance warlords to flight. The Islamistvictory also dashed plans for a return of a parliamentary government thathad developed across the border. International mediation led to the formation of TFG in neighboringKenya. This TFG offered the only prospect for a somewhat inclusive andbroad-based ruling framework, at least until stability permitted the draft-ing of a constitution, elections, and the seating of a democratic government.But it also suffered from near-fatal flaws. Formed in October 2001, the TFGderived from a 275-member parliament, which elected Ethiopian-backedwarlord Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. Any meddling by Addis Ababa madeSomalis bristle at their archenemy and its perceived protégés. Thus Ahmedwas distrusted as an Ethiopian stooge. Functioning from Baidoa since 2005, the TFG appeared doomed by thesudden victory of the Islamic Courts in Mogadishu. The Islamic militiasseemed capable of destroying their political rivals in Baidoa. Moreover, theTFG was deeply divided among its members. The transitional parliamentitself was made up of warlords, some of whom profited from the absenceof central authority. Moreover, NGO officials charged that some warlordsadopted a counterterrorism stance just to gain American funds. Some tran-sitional government officials accused the United States of undermining theTFG by clandestinely financing the anti-Islamist chieftains who disrupted thecountry. U.S. officials countered that the Pentagon disbursed no weapons and32
  • 45. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachdeployed no American troops in Somalia at the time.59 Other than handingout cash, the United States had few options to halt the spread of Islamistgroups in Somalia or to bring justice to Al Qaeda fugitives. Moreover, armsand funds poured into the ICU from sources in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, andEritrea.60 The inflow of arms and foreign fighters fueled the Islamic Courtstakeover of much of Somalia. By mid-2006, it was poised to crush its rivals. Amid its advances on the ground, a power struggle broke out within theIslamic Courts ranks. Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys emerged as the leader,displacing more moderate figures who expressed a willingness to work withthe West. By contrast, Aweys declared that only a purified Islamic state wasthe answer to Somalia’s problems. He publicly proclaimed that Allah wouldforgive him for spilling the blood of any foreign peacekeepers who venturedonto Somali soil. His past deeds offered cold comfort to the United States,which favored moderate figures. He occupied the vice chairmanship ofal-Ittihaad al-Islamiya (Islamic Union or AIAI), a movement designated bythe U.S. Department of State as a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda.61 Fromhis new post, Aweys lost little time in calling for holy war as his extremistarmy marched across the countryside, gobbling up people, assassinatingopponents, and absorbing local militias into its ranks. Clearly, no internalforce stood in the way of the Islamic Courts conquest.The U.S.-Supported Ethiopian InterventionBaidoa, seat of the TFG, recoiled in fear of being overrun by the Islamistmilitants. Rather than unity, the fear broadened the political fissures amongclans and politicians in the transitional parliament. Paralyzed and impotent,the Baidoa government appeared on verge of being swept away. Likewise,the onrushing Islamic militias sparked apprehensions of a wider conflictthroughout the Horn. Their seizure of Baidoa could encourage GreaterSomalia adherents, reigniting separatist, ethnic, and sectarian factions withinEthiopian territory, rekindling another round of warfare between Eritreaand Ethiopia, or dragging Kenya and Djibouti both with ethnic Somalipopulations into the fray. Beyond the immediate region, Libya, Syria, andEritrea reportedly funneled arms and funds to the ICU. By late 2006, officialreports acknowledged that Ethiopian advisors or troops had stolen acrossthe border for several months to train TFG recruits or to fight directly theadvancing Islamic Courts militia.62 33
  • 46. JSOU Report 10-3 Ethiopia, a country with a deeply-rooted Christian identity (but withnearly half of its people Muslim), worried about the rise of militant Islamin neighboring Somalia. Also, Ethiopia was plagued by Muslim separatistsin its eastern Ogden province. Encouraged and resupplied by the UnitedStates, Ethiopia decided to deploy troops in Baidoa so as to prevent thecapture of the transitional government. The TFG’s dire straits also gave riseto international calls for peacekeeping force made up of African countries,but not from the neighboring states of Djibouti, Ethiopia, or Kenya, whichmany Somalis regarded with suspicion. Nearby states, in fact, had treated pastSomali internal conflicts as openings for proxy wars. Eritrea and Ethiopia,which fought a 2-year war starting in 1998, each deployed troops into theSomali civil strife to back opposing sides at that time. Now Addis Ababa went to the aid of the transitional government out ofanxiety from the advancing Islamic Courts militia toward its border. Ethio-pia feared that Somalia’s borderlands would become permanent bases forits separatist enemies. Eritrea, on the other hand, lined up behind Somalia’sIslamists as means to strike back at Ethiopia and as a Muslim counter toChristian Ethiopia. An Islamic bloc of states—Egypt, Libya, Iran, SaudiArabia, Sudan, and Yemen—forked over money and arms to the IslamicCourts militias. They wanted the Islamists to take over the country regardlessof their relations with the United States or of their concerns about emerg-ing violent extremists in their midst. It was a classic example of beggar thyneighbor politically no matter the long-term consequences for yourself. The influx of proxy forces, foreign weapons, and outside interferencefueled international anxiety about a swelling regionwide vortex. In earlyDecember 2006 the U.N. Security Council, with Washington’s urging,voted to send peacekeepers to Somalia to restore order and to ensure thesurvival of the TFG. In response, the Islamic Courts pledged to greet theBlue Helmets with holy war. In the weeks that followed, the Islamic clericsin Mogadishu unleashed their militiamen who drove pickup trucks bristlingwith machineguns, mortars, and small antiaircraft guns. They descendedon Baidoa’s puny defense perimeter. Adopting the Indirect Approach, the United States looked to Ethiopiato deal with the crisis, since Washington was already tied down in Iraq andAfghanistan. Direct military intervention in another Muslim country rancounter to good sense also.63 The United States had few realistic options toblock what it perceived as a near certainty of a Taliban-like government34
  • 47. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachcoming to power in Somalia. Such a prospect conjured up thoughts ofterrorist havens in Africa, Al Qaeda figures roaming throughout the Hornfrom bases in Somalia, and yet another active front in the global insurgencyagainst violent extremism. Washington, therefore, turned to Ethiopia toundertake the heavy lifting within Somalia in late December 2006. For yearsthe United States had quietly trained Ethiopian military forces. Pentagonofficials voiced their opinion that “American commandos and the use of theEthiopian Army as a surrogate force to root out operatives for Al Qaeda”offered a “blueprint.” The Somalia operation served as a formula for use in“counterterrorism missions around the globe.” 64 The reliance on Ethiopia,nevertheless, soon backfired in this crude application of surrogate forcesharnessed to U.S. policy. So it was that Ethiopian troops buttressed the transitional parliament’sloosely aligned fighting bands; their intervention was pivotal in the contin-ued survival of the Baidoa government. Without the Ethiopian incursion,it seems likely that the TFG would have been pushed out of Somalia, if notdestroyed. The intervention, however, first ignited international calls for aneutral peacekeeping force in Somalia, and then sowed the seeds of a Somalibacklash to the Ethiopian presence. In the short term, the intensifying gunbattles brought mediation from the European Union to start peace talksbetween the two warring sides.65 But the negotiations petered out amid fire-fights and sniping. It turned out that these skirmishes were little more thana light breeze before the beating rainstorm. In the waning days of 2006, theEthiopian Army staged a week-long blitz with jets, tanks, and attack heli-copters, culminating in the capture of Mogadishu. Ethiopian troops backedthe TFG’s lightly armed militiamen, who together swept through Somalia’sscarred seaside capital, easily routing the Islamic Courts movement afterits 6-month governance. The Pentagon shared intelligence with Ethiopiansand passed munitions to Addis Ababa as part of its indirect involvement.Reports circulated that small numbers of U.S. SOF were also on the groundto help the advancing Ethiopian columns.66 The Islamic Court foot soldiers melted away, shaved their beards, stashedtheir rifles, and vanished into the neighborhoods. The rough order imposedby ICU also evaporated as murder, rape, and forced bribes returned. Heavycasualties inflicted on the Islamic fighters, nevertheless, ushered in an uneasycalm. Powerful clans like the Hawiye, which had backed the Islamist militantsin Mogadishu, lent only lukewarm support to the transitional parliament, 35
  • 48. JSOU Report 10-3dominated by the Darod clan, and condemned the Ethiopian interference.While pockets of Mogadishu residents welcomed the Ethiopian-transitiongovernment forces, most Somalis viewed the Ethiopian Army with abidingantipathy. The two countries fought bloody border wars in the past. Theirshared, unmarked boundary was the scene of recurrent skirmishes. TheSomalis religious differences with their occupiers further exacerbated thefear and loathing toward the Ethiopians. For its part, the Ethiopian Armypromised to withdraw quickly.67 Remnants of the Islamic militias driftedtoward the town of Kismayo on Somalia’s southern coast, while othersmelted into population of the capital. Addis Ababa declared that its militaryincursion was temporary; it called for international peacekeepers to policethe uneasy calm. In the baggage trains of the Ethiopian Army, the TFG rode into Moga-dishu and set up a government—the first internationally credible Somaligoverning body in 15 years. Elements within the TFG, however, harassed andlooted the population. The new transitional prime minister, Ali MohammedGedi (a former veterinarian) appealed for peace and demanded surrenderof weapons to the authorities. Countless armed men initially traipsed through the streets, however, andstayed loyal to their clan warlords. During the following weeks, weaponswent out of sight but not out of reach. Some clan elders concluded that theIslamists were a lost cause and made peace with the TFG. Others bided theirtime, waiting for the inevitable changes so frequent in Somalia’s history. In the south, Ethiopian troops and transitional militia closed in on theIslamists remnants, who first congregated in the town of Kismayo and thenfled southward. Kenyan officials sealed their border against fleeing Islamistmilitiamen. For their part, the Islamists scattered into the bush and vowedto carry on a guerrilla war against their pursuers. They called for a globaljihad against Ethiopia. Only a few hundred fighters, most from Eritrea,answered the plea. Washington closely watched the unfolding developments in the Hornof Africa country. It worried that the military tide might be reversed in theperennially topsy-turvy political landscape. A return to power by the ICUalmost certainly presaged a sanctuary for fugitive Al Qaeda operators andfor other terrorist networks. As it were, the retreating Somali Islamists stillsheltered terrorists wanted by the United States for the embassy bombingand other attacks in East Africa.36
  • 49. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachThe Intervention BackfiresThe drawbacks to this clumsy application of the Indirect Approach quicklymanifested themselves. The unpopularity of the Ethiopians in Somaliaand the fragility of the TFG presence in Mogadishu afforded little lastingprospect for stability, let alone a pro-American government in Somalia. TheUnited States swung into action. It immediately authorized a $17 million aidpackage to the new Somali rulers. The Pentagon sailed ships from the FifthFleet, berthed in Bahrain, to expand patrols off the Somali coastline to blocksuspects escaping to Yemen. The White House cranked up diplomatic effortsfor an all-African peacekeeping force within Somalia to protect a precari-ous government in the battered capital and relieve the unpopular EthiopianArmy of its occupation. It hoped that the African Union—a continentalforum that developed in 2002 from its failed predecessor, the Organizationof African Unity—or separate African countries could be persuaded todispatch peacekeepers. Thus the White House looked to another indirectpresence to displace the Ethiopian soldiers. In Brussels, the U.S. representatives attended the Somali Contact Group(made up of African and European countries with the United States) meetingin early January 2007. Along with European and African diplomats, theirAmerican counterparts took up again the need for a unity governmentin Somalia and for an African peacekeeping presence. The 6-month-oldSomali Contact Group met with a renewed urgency because of the dramaticchanges in Somalia, brought about by the Ethiopian intervention and the TFGrelocation to Mogadishu. The mini-summit resulted in no breakthroughs.Uganda alone offered to send in 800 peace soldiers; however, other Africanstates hesitated, despite the approval of the African Union and the UnitedNations for a continental stabilization contingent in the war-torn country.The piecemeal withdrawal of Ethiopian Army units in late January heightenedapprehensions of a return to anarchy. It would not be until March that Afri-can peacekeepers began to land in Somalia. Despite international goodwill,nothing changed on the ground. In short, Somalia stayed on the edge ofthe abyss. Indirectly, the United States worked through the African Union,which aimed at projecting continental security and stability. However, itsmember countries trembled at the prospect of casualties waged in a foreignwar at American insistence. 37
  • 50. JSOU Report 10-3 Washington also urged negotiations between the transitional govern-ment and moderate members of the Islamist movements, who were notviewed as terrorist abettors. These deliberations, the U.S. officials argued,must also engage leaders of powerful clans. Brokering stability throughmediation and peacekeeping troops, nevertheless, ran aground of realitiesamong the new masters in Mogadishu. The recently arrived TFG rulersin Mogadishu resisted negotiations with their detested and distrustedfoes. And African Union members were reluctant to deploy their troops inthe lawless state. The diplomatic setbacks notwithstanding, the U.S. StateDepartment pressed ahead in the following months to work indirectlythrough others—the Ethiopians, the TFG, and the African Union—to securethe shaky country. The United States played a more active, if indirect, role in transformingSomali politics. From behind the scenes, it quietly aided Ethiopia’s offensiveinto Somalia. It replenished spent munitions and supplied intelligence, equip-ment, and weapons. It also used Israel—a long-term ally of Addis Ababa—tocoordinate Ethiopian needs and tactics. America’s discreet hand in oustingthe Islamic Courts militias from power stemmed from the attempt to notanger Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, in spite of their government’s campaignagainst Al Qaeda within the desert kingdom, poured in millions of dollarsto back the Islamists in Mogadishu. In the spring when African Unionpeacekeepers set foot in Somali, the State Department hired DynCorpInternational, which worked on U.S. contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, tohelp the African Union soldiers. The private company trained, equipped,and transported troops under its initial $10 million contract in the eastAfrican state.68 America’s role briefly became more overt when an air strike took place insouthern Somalia, near the Kenyan frontier. A U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunshipat least twice pounded suspected Al Qaeda operatives long believed to behiding among the ICU. The Ethiopian intervention flushed out the Al Qaedafugitives, making them a vulnerable target for airborne strafing. Using basesand airstrips in Kenya and Ethiopia, a special operations unit made tacticalsorties into Somalia against Al Qaeda figures. Specialized troops also wentonto the ground in southern Somalia to determine who was killed in theairstrikes on terrorist fugitives.69 For years the Pentagon trained Ethiopia incounterterrorist operations, including the African country’s special forcesnamed Agazi Commandos who participated in the Somali intervention. To38
  • 51. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachproject control of the campaign’s conduct, the Somali officials stated thatthey authorized the shelling when CIA and Ethiopian intelligence confirmedthe location of the Al Qaeda operatives in Ras Kamboni, a remote fishingvillage near the Kenyan border. The 7 January 2007 strike reportedly killedAden Hashi Ayro, an Islamic Courts commander trained in Afghanistan.Later, Ayro surfaced in Mogadishu but died in another U.S. airstrike in 2008,as is described in subsequent paragraphs. All this cloaked U.S. intervention was not just about killing terrorists.Through American intercession, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the second-high-est-ranking Islamic Courts leader, was spared and provided safe passage toKenya for a future political role, as will be subsequently narrated.70 Americanand Somalis recognized the importance of Ahmed—a political centrist—forthe future of the Horn country. Considered a moderate, Ahmed is currentlythe president of Somalia. Because of his more tolerant views, the al-Shabaab(“youth”) movement, an extremist organization, is in open rebellion againstthe Ahmed government.The Somali and Afghan Interventions ComparedIn some respects the Somali case resembled America’s Afghan invasion6 years earlier. Coming right on the heels of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, theUnited States unleashed a coordinated counteroffensive against Afghani-stan’s Taliban regime for sheltering Osama bin Laden and his associates.That offensive relied on the Northern Alliance (a collection of mostlynon-Pashtun peoples and disgruntled warlords) as the surrogate source ofmanpower on the ground. They were harnessed, financed, and assisted bySpecial Operations Forces and CIA agents. By one account, only “110 CIAofficers and 316 Special Forces personnel” were initially deployed.71 Thislean American force leveraged a much larger militia of several thousandto overthrow the Taliban. As the third leg of this innovative approach, theU.S. Air Force along with carrier-based U.S. Navy jets furnished pinpointbombing attacks with satellite- or laser-guided bombs. The combinationhigh-tech airpower, low-tech but highly motivated ground forces funded,supplied, and guided by U.S. elite personnel routed the Taliban.72 It was an astounding military victory achieved decidedly on the cheap forthe United States. By spring 2002, 6 months after the assault, the United Statesspent only $12 billion and lost about a dozen American lives. The NorthernAlliance lost hundreds of its militiamen. Taliban casualties numbered some 39
  • 52. JSOU Report 10-320,000. In many ways the intervention phase was a textbook case for theoffensive deployment of surrogate forces and SOF to topple a regime.73 It did,however, embody negative side effects. Some of the anti-Taliban warlords andmilitia commanders were placed on the CIA and SOF payrolls. Understand-ably, the U.S. ground forces and agents turned to the chieftains, who defeatedthe Soviets, as allies against the Taliban mullahs. But later the warlords tradedon their newly burnished reputations as U.S. allies, to gain senior positionsin the post-Taliban government that furthered the nexus between authorityand drug corruption that plagues the current Hamid Karzai government.Money from the opium trade also fuels the insurgency, funding attacks onAmerican, NATO, and Afghan forces.74 To cut the linkage between Afghandrug traffickers and Taliban insurgents, the Pentagon announced in 2009that it placed major drug dealers on its target list to be captured or killed.Thus the U.S. military is undoing one of its earlier calculations behind theinitial Indirect Approach in Afghanistan.75 Other Afghan problems stemming from the U.S.-installed governmentburst on the pre-election scene in mid-2009, which highlighted the difficul-ties of operating within the Indirect Approach. Allegations of governmentalindifference to corruption among its uppermost officials should remind expo-nents of the Indirect Approach that outside forces seldom get to pick theirhost-nation’s leadership. Washington and its NATO allies shared concernsabout the Afghan president’s deal-making with former militia commandersand his forging ethnic alliances reliant on patronage to preserve his power.It recoiled as well at insufficient bureaucratic competency and coherenceemanating from the Kabul government to complement the COIN beingwaged just outside the capital.76 Widespread charges of election vote-riggingand ballot box-stuffing served to further delegitimize the ruling government.When a host government lacks political legitimacy, it hampers the effective-ness of the Indirect Approach. The SOF community needs no remindingthat U.S. forces depend on their host countries for policies to further theprosecution of the COIN. For all the success enjoyed by the innovative U.S. intervention during fall2001, it did fall short as an antiterrorism operation to eliminate Osama binLaden. First, the United States relied on Pakistan to slam tight its borderwith Afghanistan, thereby blocking the Al Qaeda leadership from retreatand eventual sanctuary in the remote Pakistani tribal borderlands. Evenwith a fully compliant and committed Pakistan military force, this was an40
  • 53. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachunrealistic strategy. The long, rugged 1,600-mile border separating Pakistanand Afghanistan is a porous frontier, not realistically sealable by Islamabad.Moreover, many elements inside Pakistan’s defense and intelligence estab-lishments were sympathetic to, if not actually supportive of, the Talibanregime and its star guest Osama bin Laden. Some Pakistani officers in themilitary and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) sided with the Taliban’sstrict interpretation of Islamic codes and their usefulness in keeping archrival India out of Afghan affairs. Betting on Pakistan to block or capturefleeing Taliban or Al Qaeda elements proved unwarranted by the facts. Second, the Pentagon also leaned on the weak reed of the surrogateAfghan forces for a mission impossible. The pursuit of Osama bin Ladenill-fatedly depended on Afghan allies to close with and deal with the terroristmastermind. As Dalton Fury recounted in his book Kill Bin Laden, it was amistake to let the allied mujahideen form “the tip of the spear.” This alliance“worked like a charm when we faced a common foe, the oppressive Taliban.”But against bin Laden, “we might as well have been asking for them to fightthe Almighty Prophet Mohammed himself.” 77 In relying on the IndirectApproach, its limitations will be noted by SOF commanders in the field. The aftermath of the U.S. forced entry into Afghanistan recalled thedifficulties in Vietnam when the American commanders relied on ethnicminorities. To install a government in Kabul, Washington turned to theirTajik allies, who made up about 24 percent of the population, to run theAfghan armed forces, intelligence service, and secret police. The muchlarger ethnic majority, the Pashtun (who constitute some 42 percent of thepopulace), resented their rivals heading up so many key positions despite thefact that Hamid Karzai, the president, is a Pashtun. The political appoint-ments hold present-day consequences. The Taliban draw the bulk of theirrecruits from the Pashtun, some of whom are aggrieved about the ethnicconfiguration of the ruling government. Expecting NATO and the U.N. to consolidate America’s victory overthe Taliban by taking up Washington’s occupation and peace-soldieringduties turned out to be another transitory illusion. In fact, the George W.Bush administration made few post-invasion plans for the occupation andgovernance of post-Taliban Afghanistan before the invasion.78 In many ways,the astounding victory went unconsolidated as Washington’s attention soonriveted on the war in Iraq. By early 2005, Taliban insurgents staged a come-back with newly borrowed tactics from Iraq—roadside bombs and suicide 41
  • 54. JSOU Report 10-3attacks on both civilians and security personnel. The scattered outbursts ofviolence became more frequent as the Taliban fighters reestablished strong-holds on Afghan soil or infiltrated across the Pakistan border. In time, themounting attacks compelled the United States to pay heed to Afghanistan,deploy additional troops, and devise new strategies for defeating a resurgentTaliban threat. In the Somali and the Pakistani cases, the reliance on local forces for thenarrow mission of neutralizing terrorists or fugitive figures worked well. Thecollaboration between Pakistanis, Afghans, and the CIA has accounted forthe arrest or deaths of numerous Taliban, Al Qaeda, and affiliated militants.Tipped off by informants seeking payoffs or revenge, the CIA lofted U.S.Air Force-flown Predators into the sky, tracked targets, and fired on-boardHellfire missiles at fugitives.79 But as a method of defeating a spreadinginsurgency, it proved useful but inadequate. In Somalia as well as in Afghanistan, Washington looked for multilateralorganizations to assist it peacekeeping and nation-building endeavors. InAfghanistan, the light U.S. invasion force brought NATO countries in its traininitially as peacekeepers and then, in time, counterinsurgents who acted associal engineers for constructing civil society to replace brigandage, violence,and insurgency with political stability and economic development. At thestart of the U.S.-led intervention, the top civilians at the Pentagon plannedon turning over a Taliban-vanquished Afghanistan to the United Nations foradministering and to NATO for peacekeeping duties. The Pentagon wantedto preserve U.S. military forces for offensive, direct combat missions.80 In theSomali case, Washington looked to the African Union, United Nations, andIntergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa,a regional grouping of states to deal with famine and ecological problems.These organizations proved better at dispensing U.S. funds than securingpolitical stability.Somalia’s End-State—ViolenceSomalia’s conflicts among warlords, clan chiefs, and militant factions discour-aged outside powers from intervening. Washington had tried for over a yearbefore the Ethiopian incursion in late 2006 to persuade African countriesto deploy troops in the badly fractured nation. American diplomats soughtAfrican peace soldiers to accompany the TFG’s return to Somali territory.But the Islamic Courts belligerency and maze of internal rivalries dissuaded42
  • 55. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachAfrican capitals from serving as surrogates for Washington’s policies. Africantroops from non-neighboring states offered the prospect of neutral forcesin Somalia. Working through African governments was a more viableoption than the unpopular Ethiopian army. Yet Washington assisted AddisAbaba when its forces moved into Somalia to defeat the extremist militias.Afterwards the brief hiatus set the stage for an African peacekeeping forcebacked by the United States, as its surrogate troops to preserve stability inSomalia. Washington convinced a few countries to fill the political vacuumas Ethiopia began to withdraw its soldiers so as to avoid being overextendedin a hostile occupation. But never were there sufficient African peacekeeperson hand to ensue widespread peace. On 5 March 2007, the first African Union peacekeepers arrived fromUganda to a classic Mogadishu welcome—hostile gunfire. Remnants ofthe ousted Islamist militias shelled the capital’s airport as the 400-troopcontingent off-loaded from U.S. aircraft. The Ugandans represented thevanguard of a hoped-for 8,000-man peace-building mission. At the timeonly a 4,000-strong unit had been pledged, mostly from countries friendlyto the United States, such as Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda. Later, Burundifielded 800 soldiers but the total on the ground lagged behind even half ofthe pledged force. The gunfire greeting accompanying the arriving Ugandanpeace troops served as a reminder of Somalia’s past 15 years of strife and as aprologue of its future prospects. As always, innocent civilians paid with theirlives and limbs as troops and militia peppered each other with shells. Thisproved just to be the opening salvo. Or, more accurately, it constituted justanother salvo in the persistent conflict among the ICU militias, Ethiopianarmy, warlord irregulars, and the TFG’s auxiliaries, in which the AfricanUnion and the United States joined the battle. From time to time, truceswere brokered between the Ethiopian occupiers and the Hawiye clan elders.But shootouts and firefights broke out soon after the transitory agreements. Another factor in the persistent conflict—the profit motive—enflamedthe fighting and anarchy. Arms smugglers, teenagers for hire, and evengenuine merchants benefited from Somalia’s lawlessness and unregulatedmarkets. The absence of laws and governance meant that tax revenuesescaped lawful collection, businesses dodged regulatory codes, and oppor-tunists all around took advantage of the free-for-all environment to fattentheir wallets. Warlords with private armies took over the country’s portsand airport; they charged user fees, making them a healthy return on no 43
  • 56. JSOU Report 10-3real infrastructure investment. Duty-free importers and freelance landlordsalso cleaned up in the “chaos economy.” Over time, however, some businessowners resisted the constant outlay of protection money to thugs. This newbreed of merchants warmed up to the ICU, because its militias imposedorder but did not confiscate their assets nor levy excessive taxes. Then theEthiopian invaders and the transitional government threw a monkey wrenchinto the business practices of the former Mogadishu rulers. When the transitional government authorities arrived in the capital,they took back public property and pocketed the fees. The loss of fees fromthe docks and airports angered the Hawiye business class, which benefitedfrom the chaos and then the ICU control. Other clans also resented theDarod clansmen muscling in on their commercial enterprises. Since thetransitional president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, hailed from the Darod, theywere seen as interlopers to the Hawiye status quo. As a consequence, someof the Hawiye subclans threw their lot in with the ICU and other insurgentsas they staged a counterattack on the Ethiopian troops and the transitionalgovernment occupiers of Mogadishu.81 Squabbling over the meager spoilsin Mogadishu accounted for just one of the problems of the new transitiongovernment. Another more deadly threat emerged from the extremist ranks. The Islamic Courts fighters almost insistently sniped, ambushed, andbombed in the capital and its environs. Suicide car bombers hit the Ethio-pian army barracks. These persistent attacks fell short of bringing unity tothe militant ranks despite their sharing a common foe. Tensions within theICU among its constituent factions burst forth when the Hizb’ al-Shabaah(the Party of Youth) split from the parent movement. Al-Shabaab’s practiceof ultra-strict Islam was foreign to most Somalis. Led by Aden Hasi Ayroat the time, the uncompromising al-Shabaah group persisted in its attacksin Mogadishu and elsewhere not only on the TFG militia but also on anymilitants at odds with its puritanical religious views. Trained in Al Qaedacamps in Afghanistan, Ayro advocated a Taliban-style government in Soma-lia. He received arms and funds from Eritrea. As the arch enemy of Ethiopia, Eritrea was only too happy to assist incompounding the Ethiopians’ troubles in pacifying Somalia. It was joinedby others with the same goal. Meanwhile, Ethiopian battalions and transi-tion government troops struggled to maintain order in a city awash withautomatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Some 1,000civilians died in the worst clashes in 15 years. The renewed violence also44
  • 57. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachemptied Mogadishu of some 350,000 people, who rushed out to escape theexplosion in fighting. To make matters worse, foreign fighters from theMuslim world reportedly streamed into Somalia. Al Qaeda leaders Aymanal-Zawahiri and Abu Yahia al-Libi released video appeals on jihadist Websites for mujahideen to rush to Somalia so as to wage an Iraq-style insur-gency.82 In time, transitional government officials announced the captureor death of militiamen from the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and evenAsia. Even young men of Somali ancestry from Minneapolis in the UnitedStates joined the fight in the east African country. In early April 2007 the State Department dispatched its top Africa handto the embattled country in search of peace. Jendayi Frazer, the AssistantSecretary for Africa, spent 5 hours in Baidoa offering advice, verbal support,and $100 million in aid to the transitional government. She also imploredthe transitional officials to reach out to recalcitrant clans and people whoformerly backed the ICU in Mogadishu.83 Out in the free-fire zone thathad become Mogadishu, the Ethiopian troops, much better trained thanthe irregular militants, decimated the militia fighters. Ethiopian soldiersfelled some 800 Islamists with artillery and sniper shots. They fieldedtanks, mortars, and helicopters. Their heavy firepower turned the tide inthe 3-week battle. But their intense artillery bombardments killed off anysympathy remaining among the residents. Weeks after the U.S. envoy’s visit, the so-called “Pearl of the IndianOcean” eerily calmed down without any formal truce. Gradually a normalcyreturned to Mogadishu amid the debris-filled roads and smashed buildingsas a result of dueling artillery clashes. The city’s refugees trickled back intotheir neighborhoods. The Islamic militants melted into the background,avoiding pitched battles. Instead they staged hit-and-run gun battles thatshattered the semi-calm. For their part, the TFG and its Ethiopian defendersstruggled to restore a modicum of order in the restive Indian Ocean port.To reassure the Somalis, Ethiopia declared its intentions to withdraw, but itfeared an Islamist return to power if it went too fast. With that eventuality,a hostile Somalia would stir up Ethiopia’s large Muslim minority againstthe Christian government. Thus Addis Ababa had become ensnared inSomali politics by backing Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the transition presidentwhose Darod clan refused to treat with its rival Hawiye clan, a mainstay ofthe ousted ICU. No one predicted a long or permanent peace in the leveledcapital. Indeed sporadic attacks and counterattacks continue to this day. 45
  • 58. JSOU Report 10-3 No sooner had Mogadishu slipped into an unaccustomed stillness thananother Somali danger arched high on foreign nation’s radar screens. In2005 two ships sailing off the coastof the Horn of Africa country fell In 2005 two ships sailing off thevictim to modern-day pirates in coast of the Horn of Africa countrycoastal craft. The next year 35 ships fell victim to modern-day pirates inreported at-sea hijackings. By 2008 coastal craft.that figure jumped annually to over75 ships before decreasing due to an international naval presence off theSomali shore. The next year, 2009, saw 47 vessels captured and another 214attacked at sea.84 Using speedboats, global navigation devices, and satellitephones, the pirates overwhelmed the crews of luxury liners or cargo ships.They demanded ransom in exchange for release of the passengers and for safepassage of the vessels. Somalia’s 1,880-mile, unpoliced coastline presented aninviting refuge to pirates. The country’s location abutting critical shippingroutes linking the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea also offered prime sitesfor sea banditry. The passage of time saw more rampant and brazen piracythat at last prompted NATO to dispatch a flotilla of patrolling warships.Formerly, impoverished fishing villages sprouted mansions built frompiratical proceeds. The Somali coast, like the Gulf of Guinea and the watersoff Indonesia, burst suddenly as among the world’s most pirated sea. Theship raiders dwelt much more on ransom than religion and more on profitsthan politics. But they originated from the same turbulence that bred thecountry’s internal strife.85 Also from the sea, U.S. warships cruised off the coast to interdict fleeingmilitants, especially foreign fighters, bound for the Arabian Peninsula. Thevessels formed part of an international naval flotilla, known as CombinedTask Force 150, made up of several countries. On at least one occasion, aNavy destroyer fired missiles at a band of Islamist fighters hiding out inthe mountains of semiautonomous Puntland in June 2007. The barragekilled eight in a replay of a similar strike 6 months earlier against militantsin southern Somalia. Almost a year later, March 2008, a U.S. submarinelaunched two Tomahawk cruise missiles into Dobley, a town 4 miles fromthe Kenyan border. The intended target was Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, whointelligence agencies identified as one of the organizers of the 1998 bombingsof the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.46
  • 59. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approach In each missile firing, special ops troops played a role, either identifyingtargets, guiding missiles, or participating in postmortem evaluations onthe ground shortly after the strikes. These earlier strikes proved ineffectiveagainst their intended high-profile targets, although other militants as wellas civilians died in the explosions. The elusive Al Qaeda fugitives and manyof the high-value leaders slipped the noose drawn by U.S. agents and troops.The Dobley strike did touch off an anti-American demonstration by residentswho chanted “Down with the so-called superpower.” 86 But in late April 2008, another missile bombardment on a house in thecentral Somali town of Dusamareb, about 300 miles north of Mogadishu,killed Aden Hashi Ayro, the head of al-Shabaab, a highly ideological wingof the Islamist insurgency. Trained in Afghanistan, Ayro rose to promi-nence in the chaotic period before the transition government took shape.After the Ethiopians pushed aside the ICU in Mogadishu, he was blamedfor introducing suicide bombings, roadside explosions, and other Al Qaedatactics that took root in the impoverished land. At the time of his death, hewas developing an Al Qaeda-linked network in Somalia. His unpopularityamong moderate Islamic leaders probably led to his undoing. As in otherAmerican attacks, someone tipped off the U.S. military about the where-abouts of a terrorist suspect. Like Al Qaeda in Iraq, Ayro’s al-Shabaab factioncultivated enemies within Muslim ranks for its indiscriminate killingsamong the general population.87 Also like bin Laden’s network, it attractedforeigners to its banners. Unlike the Indirect Approach in the Philippines (discussed below), theU.S. military assumed a hands-on kinetic posture to eliminate terrorists andtheir abettors on Somali soil. Manila, by contrast, kept the American advisorsin a strictly demarcated noncombat role. Somalia’s feeble sovereignty anddependent transitional government ruled out a similar arm’s-length strategy.Allowing U.S. forces a free hand has also been explained as a practice of theAbdullahi Yusuf Ahmed government, which itself waged a bloody war todo away with political and business rivals.88 Missile strikes against Al Qaeda operators represented a tiny cause ofSomalia’s persistent turmoil. The transition government failed to reconcileits rivals, alienated population sectors such as merchants and businessowners, and lacked funds to pay its own soldiers, who in turn stole food andmerchandise from shop owners. The United Nations World Food Program 47
  • 60. JSOU Report 10-3regularly ran short of handouts. Its aid workers faced the most dangerouslife of any place on the planet. They were shot or kidnapped for ransom.The warlords, insurgents, and hordes of young men bearing arms to earn awage completed the portrait of a failed state. In fact, it hardly resembled astate at all, rather a lawless space of some 9 million people lumped betweenits neighbors and the Indian Ocean. A peace agreement in June 2008 between the transitional governmentand one of the moderate Islamic factions brought just a brief respite in theongoing battles. The talks leading to the deal were boycotted by U.S.-listedterrorist Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, the former radical Islamist leader ofthe ICU, and then the extremist Hisb al-Islam faction allied with al-Shabaab.In fact, al-Shabaab and other Islamic militias continued to roll up territoryin the south central part of the county. Within their bailiwick, the Islamicclerics meted out shari’a rulings, such as the stoning of women adulterers,whipping dancers, amputating the arms of thieves, and the kidnapping offoreign aid workers. The Taliban-style rule in itself made outsiders wary of theradical leadership’s receptivity to Al Qaeda. Was the anarchy within Somalialeading to another pre-9/11 Afghanistan replete with terrorism camps andOsama bid Laden-like plotters of mass death in the West? This fear drivesU.S. COIN efforts in the Horn as well as in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen,and the Philippines to deprive terrorist havens for attacks on the West. The chaotic environment within Somali borders convinced Americananalysts that the country seethed with difficulties even too intractable forAl Qaeda. These military experts recounted Al Qaeda’s struggles to builda coalition in 1993-1994 among militias. The complexity of clan politicsand the fleeting transience of interclan alliances that confounded Westernobservers proved just as perplexing to Al Qaeda organizers. Financial costswere greater, according to outsiders, than Osama bin Laden’s commandersanticipated due to high operational expenses. They noted that the absenceof infrastructure that hampered antiterrorist forces also severely retardedAl Qaeda operatives who found travel physically demanding and dangerousfrom highway shakedowns for cash.89 The sheer chaos seemed to ensure thatno foreign organization could prevail for long in the Somali maelstrom. Buthome-grown extremists could voluntarily “franchise” themselves to Osamabin Laden’s cause. Somali extremists, indeed, announced ties existed with Al Qaeda in lateAugust 2008. A top commander of al-Shabaab, which the State Department48
  • 61. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachdesignated a terrorist organization a year earlier, spouted off that “we arenegotiating how we can unite into one” with Al Qaeda. Sheikh MuktarRobow added: “We will take our orders from Sheik Osama bin Ladenbecause we are his students.” The Al Qaeda acolyte explained: “Most of ourleaders were trained in Al Qaeda camps. We get our tactics and guidelinesfrom them.” The U.S. Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger seconded theassessment up to a point: “There are indications of a fairly close al-ShabaabAl Qaeda connection, though it’s not clear to what extent they’ve beenoperationalized.” 90 In al-Shabaab videos, the Kenyan Al Qaeda operativeSaleh Ali Saleh Nabhan (aka Abu Yusuf) expressed his allegiance to Osamabin Laden: “My sheikh! The heart offers you thousand greetings combinedwith my love and humility.” 91 Al Qaeda’s hierarchy reciprocated the significance of linkages to Somaliinsurgents. Aman al-Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al-Libi stated how criticalSomalia had become.92 The Horn country’s importance loomed larger as AlQaeda looked for new theaters as its operations stumbled in Iraq during 2007.Home-grown groups in Somalia as elsewhere may become self-declared AlQaeda franchises. What gave al-Shabaab and other radical Somali move-ments salience with Al Qaeda was their conflict with U.S.-backed Ethiopianforces. Al-Shabaab figures capitalized on the Ethiopian presence in the sameway that Al Qaeda in Iraq initially benefited from the U.S. occupation afterthe ouster of Saddam Hussein. A policy of reliance on Ethiopian forces produced serious disadvantagesfor the United States and moderate, secular movements in Somalia. Theal-Shabaab movement and other extremist groupings used the presence offoreign troops on Somali territory as a rallying cry that appealed to widesegments among the population. Once Ethiopia withdrew its main groundunits, the extremist rebels lost this ringing provocation against the Ahmedtransition government, which at the time of this writing clings to power.Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, as noted above, had been spared by Americanintercession and allowed to escape safely into Kenya in early 2007. Considereda moderate figure despite his leadership role in the ICU, Ahmed was electedto the presidency by the parliament in January 2009 following presidentYusuf’s resignation after losing the confidence of the parliamentarians. The United States has now turned to supporting President Ahmed as itsnew indirect posture to deny terrorist sanctuaries by bringing a semblance oforder and peace to the Horn of Africa. In June 2009 Washington announced 49
  • 62. JSOU Report 10-3its shipment of 40 tons of weapons to the Ahmed government hard-pressedby al-Shabaab insurgents who controlled much of Mogadishu. The U.S.government also provided funding to Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda to trainSomali soldiers to combat the al-Shabaab threat. Additionally, Washingtoncriticized Eritrea of supporting the Somali rebels—a charge the Asmaragovernment denied.93 In Somalia, the Indirect Approach leans on a slender reed in a countrybattered by nearly two decades of anarchy. Not being a warlord, among somany warlords, leaves President Ahmed reliant on others for military forcesto ensure his survival. Coming from a branch of the important Hawiyeclan provides a basis for its endorsement. Free of earlier Ethiopian back-ing, Ahmed has much more credibility among his fellow citizens than hispredecessor. His resistance to Ethiopian invasion and occupation standshim in good stead among Somalis. But his al-Shabaab enemies are resolute,crafty, and persistent against their former partner. If anything, the rise topower of Ahmed “infuriated the hardliners, who immediately labeled hima Western ‘puppet.’” 94 Furthermore, opposition to Ahmed succeeded incoalescing disparate movements into a new extremist coalition, the HisbulIslamiyaa (Islamic Party), which allied itself to the al-Shabaab movement.95 With few cards to play in Somalia, Washington’s endorsement of theAhmed government is a tactical maneuver of wagering that it can furtherAmerican objectives without direct U.S. intervention against extremist foes.Its recent adoption of Ahmed as the lesser of evils is one of the shortcomingsof the Indirect Approach—the United States sometimes has few choices inits allies. During her African tour in mid-2009, Secretary of State HillaryClinton met with Ahmed in Kenya and pledged “additional funds in thecoming months” to assist the stabilization of the war-torn country.96 ThusAmerica’s Indirect Approach went full circle from backing the Ethiopiansurrogate intervention against hard-line extremists to befriending and fund-ing one of the former extremist leaders, now viewed as a moderate politicalfigure. Rather than singling out U.S. policymakers for criticism, the shift frombacking the Ethiopian intervention to propping up the indigenous politicalplays demonstrated the kind of pragmatism, flexibility, and adaptabilitynecessary to make the Indirect Approach work in highly volatile countries.Yet the long-term viability of an Ahmed government and even its reliabilityas a moderate authority are open to serious questions in the anarchic land.Thus the durability of this version of America’s Indirect Approach in the50
  • 63. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachHorn is also open to doubt at this juncture. The strategy may require furthermodifications to adapt to new circumstances.Philippines: A Qualified Indirect Approach Model?Numbering about 7,000 islands, the Philippines are sharply divergent fromthe current scenes of low-intensity conflict in the Middle East and Africa.Located in the Pacific off the coast of East Asia, the Republic of the Philippineshas one foot in the Asian landmass and another in the Western world dueto its long Spanish colonization. Imperial Spain subjugated the archipelagoduring the 16th century after Magellan, the great naval circumnavigator,landed on the islands in 1521. The Spaniards united for the first time in thefar-flung island chain stretching almost 1,000 miles from north to south.Their religion, culture, and economic order left a lasting influence on theFilipino populations. Spanish religious orders spread Catholicism down thelengthy archipelago except to the southernmost islands, where the earlier-established Islamic communities resisted the Christian missionaries’ pros-elytizing. The colonists also established large estates for the production ofsugar cane, rice, hemp, and coconuts. Over the span of centuries, Spanishrule brought neither adequate and balanced economic development norself-government, let alone sovereignty. Not until American control at thetail end of the 19th century did the Philippines inch toward the modernworld and eventual independence. Its path, however, was pockmarked withrebellion, conflict, war, and insurgencies that reach into the present time,with extremist Islamic movements and communist guerrillas. Unlike either contemporary Somalia or 1960s Vietnam, the Philip-pines offer in many respects a textbook case study for how the IndirectApproach and surrogate warfare must be waged. The following descriptionwill unfailingly note the many positive practices of U.S. COIN practices. Butthe Philippine case study cannot become a one-size-fits-all template for otherinsurgencies. The island republic’s political and economic circumstances,history, and relationship with the United States differ vastly from Somalia,Pakistan, Iraq, or Afghanistan. In most respects, the Philippines are anatypical case. Many Filipinos know the United States well. They have rela-tives living in America. Large numbers have served in the American armedforces. Their personal familiarity enhances and facilitates cooperation. Theisland republic possesses a functioning constitutional democracy, long andclose relations with the United States, and the insurgents are confined to 51
  • 64. JSOU Report 10-3southern islands, making it difficult for them to find cross-border sanctuariesin neighboring states. Indeed the nearby states cooperate with Manila andwith each other in cracking down on terrorist networks and apprehendingfugitives. In many other insurgences, mutual assistance against insur-gents within regions has often been lacking. Elsewhere, some states activelyassisted their neighbor’s insurgents or at least allowed them sanctuary. TheUnited States, as an offshore neighbor, has played the dominant part inthe improvement of the Philippine government’s COIN against terroristsand insurgents. Because the U.S. Indirect Approach has borne fruit in thePhilippines, its practitioners see their campaign as a readily applied modelfor other insurgencies.97 Every insurgency presents similar military and political characteristics;but in the last analysis, each is unique to other conflicts. No field practi-tioner can simply superimpose the COIN techniques and lessons of oneinsurgency over another to attain the same outcome. Warfare is far toocomplexly irreducible for template-like solutions. The Philippine case containselements of an effective anti-insurgent campaign but because of its manynatural and political advantages cannot become a paradigm for all othercounterinsurgencies.U.S.-Philippine History in a NutshellAmerican-Philippine relations have oscillated over the decades between thegood, bad, and indifferent. During the Spanish-American war, CommodoreGeorge Dewey sank Spain’s Pacific fleet and freed the Philippines fromMadrid’s three centuries-plus colonization. But rather than setting freethe 7,000-island archipelago under a Filipino government headed by theindependence fighter Emilio Aguinaldo, Washington hung onto the countrywhen Spain ceded it to the United States, along with Guam, Puerto Rico,and Cuba (the latter of which became a sovereign state). Some Filipinosdeclared independence and proclaimed a republic in 1899. A guerrilla warbroke out between Filipino insurgents and the U.S. Army that claimed thelives of over 200,000 islanders. Aguinaldo’s capture in 1901 failed to end theinsurrection, which lingered on among the Islamic Moros in the southernisland of Mindanao, despite a peace agreement in 1902. Under American tutelage, the Philippines went from semicolonial statuswith its own legislature to a Commonwealth in 1935 with Washington’s grantof more autonomy and a constitution approved by the island populace. Its new52
  • 65. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachstatus also envisioned a transitional phase in 1946, when the South Pacificnation would become independent. But the day after Japanese warplanesstruck the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, Japan invaded the islands. The Impe-rial Japanese Army defeated the tiny American garrisons at Bataan andCorregidor and expelled General Douglas MacArthur from the Filipinoshores. General MacArthur reinvaded the islands in October 1944, andU.S. forces freed the Philippines from Japanese rule. Nearly 2 years later,the island nation attained its full sovereignty on 4 July 1946. The United States, however, retained use of Subic Bay naval base andClark air base under a 1947 agreement with the Philippine government. Butas the agreement expired four decades later, the Philippine Senate, out ofnationalistic impulse, rejected ratification of a new treaty to extend the U.S.military presence. Washington accepted Manila’s decision and vacated theNaval Station at Subic Bay in 1992. The United States had already abandonedits Clark air base the year before when it was buried under volcanic ash froman erupting Mount Pinatubo. The loss of the naval facilities invoked feelingsof ingratitude in the United States but the interlude fell short of disruptingmilitary cooperation between the two countries. Even after independence,American military assistance was instrumental in checking the island repub-lic’s guerrilla enemies. Manila looked to American assistance in combatinginternal brush fire wars over the years. For Washington’s part, the Pacific islands were too geopolitically impor-tant to have them engulfed in instability. And for the Philippines, its self-imposed estrangement from the American military safety net came to a closewith the rise of Islamic militancy in the country’s southern islands. In 1999the two countries entered into an agreement to formalize and limit theircooperation. This Visiting Forces Agreement governs the jurisdiction overU.S. personnel who commit civil crimes on Philippine territory. It also legallyruled out direct combat missions for American troops. Rather, the Pentagonhoned in on building what it termed counterinsurgency capacity within thePhilippine military.98 This endeavor concentrated on rendering specializedtraining and transferring arms and equipment to Filipino armed forces. Manila’s arm’s-length stance from dependence on U.S. troops for combatmissions worked to the advantage of both countries. The Philippines avoidedthe reliance on American forces that might lead to undermining of the Indi-rect Approach. It also avoided political accusations of being an Americanappendage. For the United States the Filipino insistence lessened costs and 53
  • 66. JSOU Report 10-3the size of its military footprint in the islands. This go-it-alone capacityand requirement marked a key distinction from the heavy U.S. militaryinvolvement demanded in immediate post-invasion Iraq and current-dayAfghanistan.U.S. Counterinsurgency Returns to the PhilippinesEven before 9/11 plane hijackings, the Pentagon carried on training missionswith the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to strengthen their capabili-ties against terrorists and insurgents. The Republic of the Philippines andthe United States initiated the Balikatan (translated as shoulder-to-shoulder)military exercises in spring 2001, because earlier joint training operationshad lapsed during the 1990s. In time, these joint maneuvers incorporateda large component of American humanitarian and civic assistance to theimpoverished southern islands to alleviate the local grievances about thecentral government’s neglect in building roads, bridges, wells, and harborsand in allocating health, dental, and veterinary services to the inhabitants.The reinstated military coopera- The reinstated military cooperationtion proved timely as the Islamic proved timely as the Islamic insurgentinsurgent threat burst into the threat burst into the world’s eye withworld’s eye with terrorist strikes terrorist strikes in New York, Bali,in New York, Bali, Madrid, and Madrid, and many other cities.many other cities. The exercisesand more importantly the continuing joint COIN collaboration between thetwo countries helped Manila beat back the insurgency. Just after the Balikatan 2001 exercises, the Defense Department furnishedintelligence, equipment, and money in support of the AFP when an Americanmissionary couple—Martin and Gracia Burnham—were taken hostage on27 May 2001 by Abu Sayyaf (this name honors Afghan jihadi Abdul RasulSayyaf and means roughly The Bearer of the Sword). A Saudi Arabian busi-nessman, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, who married a sister of Osama binLaden, may have helped found Abu Sayyaf in the early 1990s. His businessesand Islamic charity operated for a few years in the islands, where he alleg-edly channeled funds to extremists.99 Afterwards he fled the island nationand met death a decade later in Madagascar. An extremist faction, Abu Sayyaf perpetrated a campaign of thuggery,murder, kidnapping, and rape in the southernmost Philippine islands.Along with others the Burnhams were abducted from a resort on Palawan54
  • 67. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachand spirited across the Sulu Sea to hideouts on Basilan off the coast ofMindanao. Abu Sayyaf proclaimed itself an Osama bin Laden group. Oneof its leaders Aldam Tilao (who adopted the nom de guerre of Abu Sabaya(Bearer of Captives) was a principal figure behind the Burnhams’ abduction.Under Tilao’s guidance, the group behaved more like pirates than religiousstalwarts. He hungered for personal notoriety and media attention, donningOakley sunglasses and a raffish bandana for photographers.100 Ultimately,this narcissism contributed to his death at the hands of the AFP. Put priorto his demise, he and Abu Sayyaf grabbed the press’s attention. A well-regarded reporter noted that the kidnappers were unfamiliarwith much of the Koran, Islam’s holy book, and only whimsically adheredto positive Islamic behavioral tenets. Seeing themselves as enjoying specialstatus as holy warriors, they “sexually appropriated several of the womencaptives (who were taken with the Burnhams), claiming them as ‘wives.’” 101Historically, radicalized Islam as a political cover and enabler of terrorismwas nothing new as its extremism saw wide usage among the Barbary piratesfor centuries. Tilao, and other terrorist chieftains, have acted as RobinHood figures by dolling out some of the ransom money from kidnappingsto locals. But they have also interspersed their payments with large dollopsof intimidation and mayhem to keep their charges in line. The horrific events of 9/11 catapulted the barely visible Abu Sayyaf ontothe Pentagon’s terrorism radar screens. The kidnap-for-ransom gang’sobscurity vanished as it was regarded as a regional branch of an internationalthreat. President George W. Bush offered the Philippine President GloriaMacapagal Arroyo assistance against the abductors. U.S. military and CIAhelp followed. It played a role in the eventual cornering of the Abu Sayyafhostage-takers, the death of its leader Abu Sabaya, the unintended killing ofMartin Burnham, and the safe release of his wife Gracia. At the time, the U.S.deployment represented the second front, after Afghanistan, in the war onterrorism. To coordinate its low-visibility activities, the Defense Departmentestablished a Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) tofacilitate cooperation with Filipino military and to “wage peace” by headingoff grass-roots grievances with medical and veterinary care and constructionprojects. The initiatives proved to be an antidote for the troubled island ofBasilan. Long-standing grievances remain among the Muslim populationdue to the agitation of local activists and Manila’s neglect, however. 55
  • 68. JSOU Report 10-3 America’s side-door role against the Burnhams’ captors exemplifiesthe behind-the-scenes, small-scale Indirect Approach it must play in itslong-term struggle against violent extremism. The United States handedover surveillance intelligence, rifles, high-speed naval boats, and money tothe Philippine marine corps and other units. As journalist Mark Bowdenreported, the Burnham incident offered a model: “Because the enemy consistsof small cells operating independently all over the globe, success dependson local intelligence and American assistance subtle to avoid charges ofimperialism or meddling, charges that often provoke a backlash and feedthe movement [of jihadism].” 102 This patient, shadowy part of training,guiding, and equipping others to fight, capture, and arrest terrorists hasnothing to do with the Hollywood-style operations of popular special opslore. By playing a supporting role—rather than a leading part—the SOFwere more effective in the long run. Moreover, they kept a “Filipino face”on the COIN operations. Pitfalls, nonetheless, surfaced in working hand in hand with indigenousCOIN forces. The journalist Bowden called attention to the prospect that thePhilippine troops “almost certainly murdered people standing in the wayof their intelligence operation.” 103 This practice is unfortunately an elementof nearly all conflicts in which innocents have been abused, tortured, oreven killed for being accused of collaborating with one side or another.Better training can reduce or even eliminate counterproductive behavior.The corruption, harsh treatment, or ill discipline of indigenous forces canunfortunately cause a backlash among locals against the U.S. advisors as wellas native soldiers. As such, the behavior of America’s in-country partnersmatters immensely for the success of the Indirect Approach. The terrorist attacks on American soil intensified U.S. assistance toOperation Enduring Freedom—Philippines (OEF-P)—the planning forwhich started as the site of the Twin Towers still smoldered. Washingtondispatched Special Operations Forces and CIA agents with cash and surveil-lance tracking equipment to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines,including unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Predator that could pickup campfires, hot food, and even human beings on its infrared cameras.The specialized military units passed along techniques for reconnaissance,patrolling, marksmanship, and medical care to their Filipino counterparts.The U.S. military command, which was back in the Philippines for a jointexercise with the AFP, wanted a SEAL team to conduct the hostage-rescue56
  • 69. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachraid, a type of operation particularly suited to the elite Navy commandos.The Philippine officers rejected the American offer, feeling it cast doubts ontheir competency as well as infringed on their sovereignty. The AFP sometimes trod cumbersomely in pursuit of the Abu Sayyafguerrillas who fled into the hills north of Zamboanga City on the south-ernmost peninsula of Mindanao. Moreover, the Philippine forces embodiedfissures between the army and the marines which especially came to thefore when deciding on the rescue operation for the Burnhams and theother captives. The army prevailed over the seaborne infantry corps. But itsbotched raid resulted in the death of Martin Burnham and a Filipino nurse,traumatized Gracia Burnham, and enabled Aldam Tilao (aka Abu Sabaya)and other kidnappers to escape into the forest. The dismal outcome of theraid intensified the army-marine tensions, complicating the mission of theCIA agents and U.S. Special Operations Forces. The Philippine marines got another chance when Tilao and his remainingband decided to flee the peninsula by sea. Through a tip-off, the marines,aided by the SEALs and CIA, intercepted the Abu Sayyaf boat off the Mind-anao coast, killing Tilao and many of his gang. His death failed to inspirea widespread resurgent extremist movement to avenge the “martyrdom.”The Abu Sayyaf movement remains active, however, setting off bombs andstaging ambushes on the contested volcanic island of Jolo, where the Philip-pine marines still battle militants.104 The near invisibility of the Americanmilitary presence with the SOF and CIA playing a discreet behind-the-scenepart in support of COIN lessened animosities toward the United States. ButAbu Sayyaf and other militant cells regrouped and struck again. The larger movement for a separate Muslim autonomy as represented bythe Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) also persists as do other seces-sionist parties divided along ethnic lines but favoring some sort of Islamicstate. As such, the struggle continues between Manila and its island popu-lations. The Front and Manila governments entered into peace agreementsfrom time to time. These arrangements exchanged limited autonomy to theMILF for a cessation of hostilities. In due course they broke down, and strifereturned. U.S. forces were prohibited from participating in sweeps againstMILF, because Washington did not view the Front as a terrorist networklinked to Al Qaeda or Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesian terrorist movementconnected with Osama bin Laden’s network. On the other hand, Abu Sayyafreportedly enjoyed connections with both of these foreign terrorism outfits. 57
  • 70. JSOU Report 10-3Jemaah Islamiyah members involved in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombingthat killed over 200 people fled to Jolo, where Filipino forces chased themin the mountainous terrain. Abu Sayyaf later suffered setbacks at the instigation of U.S. forces operat-ing in the Philippines. Two of its leaders were killed in clashes with Filipinotroops, who were tipped off by informants. The whereabouts of KhaddafyJanjalani, the group’s head, and Abu Sulaiman (his real name Jainal AntelSali Jr.), a senior leader, was divulged by half a dozen Jolo islanders. Laterthey shared in a $10 million bounty paid by the U.S. government Rewardsfor Justice money but handed out by Filipino officials to keep the UnitedStates out of the picture. Janjalani took over the leadership of Abu Sayyaffrom his brother and the network’s founder, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani,after his death in 1998. Before Janjalani’s physical elimination in 2006, thisterrorist had been involved in the sinking of a passenger ferry that cost over100 lives in 2004, plus many other killings and kidnappings. The United States, for its part, intended to avoid being dragged intoparochial struggles beyond its security interests. But as insurgent movementslike the MILF splinter or spin off rogue factions that depart from truces andresort to terrorism, the United States may well be drawn into engaging them.Members of the Front did join with a resurgent Abu Sayyaf in attacks onFilipino troops on Jolo Island in August 2007.105 The Republic of the Philip-pines also fought back against other insurgents including the New People’sArmy (NPA), the military faction of the Communist Party of the Philip-pines. The NPA fought a rural-centered insurgency within the archipelago,especially in eastern Mindanao, where it took advantage of the AFP’s focuson Abu Sayyaf in the southern part of the island to revive its attacks. Another reason for the lowered profile of U.S. personnel in the Philippineoperations derived from the sensitiveness with which they came to their task.All the Americans underwent “cultural sensitivity training” that entailedseminars with community officials, Muslim clerics, and academicians eventhough they arrived on Basilan Island well versed in local mores. Squads ofmen, numbering about 12 highly trained members, were assigned to muchlarger Philippine units for training and advisement. These teams perceivedtheir first mission to be one of establishing rapport with both their militarycounterparts and the local populations. Each member mingled and talkedwith people. Some spoke at forums to clarify intentions and to answer ques-tions from the islanders. The teams contracted for food, laundry, and building58
  • 71. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachof bases from neighborhood businesses to give them an economic stake intheir presence. Concerns were allayed. The Brasilan Provincial Council,among others, passed resolutions supporting the American deployment.106 On Jolo Island, the U.S. military showed animated films to children,who got a bottle of water and paper bag of popcorn in return for using handsanitizer as the price of admission. Thus the young attendees got a lessonin sanitation along with a free movie seat. The unconventional methodsformed part of the struggle to win hearts and minds against violent extrem-ism by improving the lives of islanders. Gifts of plastic sandals, help withseaweed farming, and development of off-season mangos—all formed partof the COIN program. The Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippineshosted the cinema and other civil operations to squeeze out sympathy forAbu Sayyaf and wherever possible complicity with political extremism. Indiscussing the social-service projects, Army Major Joseph Mouer stated: “Iconsider myself a diplomat with a gun.” 107 The number of Americans, military and civilian, was less than 600advisors. They were prohibited from direct combat roles by their Filipinohosts. Instead, they trained, advised, and transferred COIN equipment,encompassing night-vision goggles, special radar, heat-detecting cameras,and up-to-date radios. Fighting was left to Philippine troops. Civilians fromthe Agency for International Development helped out with improving cropsand medical services. The SOF security enabled USAID, nongovernmentalagencies, and even private businesses to set up shop.108 For short spurts,U.S. Seabees, accompanied by U.S. Marine guards, landed in remote areasto build footbridges, water wells, piers, and helicopter landing zones. Butthey avoided impinging on Philippine sovereignty and feeding the flames ofresistance to foreign interference. Abu Sayyaf threatened to kill the American“invaders” and promised to liberate the southern Philippines from Manila’scolonization and Christian domination. The SOF countered by minimizingits presence while maximizing the Philippine combat role. The tiny American advisory presence, therefore, fell well short of thetype of occupying army that so enraged opposition to the U.S. presence inIraq after its invasion. By reducing its footprint within the Philippines, thePentagon diluted charges that the Manila government was simply America’spuppet as it also downsized a convenient target for extremist networks toincite resistance. Despite a lowered American military profile, the threat ofterrorism, insurgency, and instability persists in the Philippine southern 59
  • 72. JSOU Report 10-3islands. A deployment of a few hundred U.S. personnel did not spark theMuslim separatist cause. That propensity for separatism long preceded theU.S. occupation at the end of the 19th century. Successively, the MILF andthen Abu Sayyaf proclaimed secessionist aims interlaced with murderousbehavior and piratical activities. Their violence poses a threat to Americaninterests because the perpetrators see themselves as a branch of Al Qaedarather than strictly a local separatist movement. As such, they are willing toextend safe havens to America’s most deadly foes. Their violent deeds lendsubstance to their proclaimed goals. Within the Philippines some 400 peopledied (and a further 1,100 wounded) from terrorist attacks between 2000and 2007, making the archipelago the deadliest nation in Southeast Asia.109 The necessity for the annual Balikatan military exercises between U.S.and Filipino forces remains a high priority for both nations. The SOF role oftraining and advising the AFP is unabated. This Indirect Approach servesas a model elsewhere. Direct warfare, such as commando raids and assaultoperations, remain a staple for some SOF units against bad guys. Yet thereverse side of the SOF coin lies with the crucial operations designed toevaporate terrorist breeding grounds and win over the loyalty of a populace.Humanitarian, financial, and civic backing form the primary orientation ofthese programs. They can include a training dimension of either local eliteforces or civic personnel for reconstruction. While the distinction may betoo pat at times, as engagements demand both types of forays, the indirectrole of support for host-nation troops focuses on preempting a deteriorat-ing political environment before it suppurated with an all-out insurgency.The campaign against terrorist networks, therefore, is a conflict requir-ing partners. Allies are needed to denymilitants sanctuaries in their coun- It is a war of shadows, rathertries. It is a war of shadows, rather than than American silhouettes,American silhouettes, where U.S. forces where U.S. forces stand out asstand out as unwelcome as strangers in unwelcome as strangers in aa strange land reluctantly hosted by a strange land reluctantly hostedhard-pressed regime. The opposition by a hard-pressed an American presence—military oreven civilian—is not unique to the Philippines. But the islands’ colonialpast and now vibrant democratic institutions render public outcries all themore powerful.60
  • 73. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachUnique Characteristics of the Philippine SceneDespite the close working relationship between American and Filipinoarmed forces, not everyone in the Philippines is enamored with the U.S.presence. A variety of political parties, advocacy movements, and human-rights groups loudly protest the American military presence and the U.S.-Philippine cooperation especially the Balikatan military maneuvers. TheCommunist Party of the Philippines, its military arm of the New People’sArmy, the communist-led National Democratic Front, the Karapatan (humanrights group), and the Bagon Alyansang Makabayan (an umbrella group),the National Alliance on Filipino Concerns, and others regularly stagedemonstrations, hold rallies, and support individual activists who opposeFilipino-American military ties and the U.S. forces stationed on the islands.The Ban Balikatan movement opposes the American intervention as aninfringement of the country’s sovereignty. Some of the protests believe thatthe southern island requires genuine agrarian reform and industrializationand not humanitarian handouts by a neocolonial power.110 These political movements regularly call for investigations into allegedatrocities committed by the U.S.-trained Philippine army or back claims ofalleged rape victims by U.S. personnel. Because the islanders enjoy muchgreater freedom and safety in a democratic country, the political scene islively with an array of dissidents, protesters, and political constituencies,which rage at the United States and their own government for cooperatingwith the American neo-imperialist. The Filipino detractors criticize U.S.troops for being exempt from the visa regulations, vehicle registrations,and airplane and ship custom inspections of the island under the terms ofthe Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). They protest that American buildingsconstituted permanent camps rather than temporary facilities, which violateda constitutional ban on permanent bases garrisoned by foreign powers. Otherprotestors hold that U.S. SOF have engaged in combat actions, an activitystrictly prohibited by the Philippine Constitution, which also bars foreigntroops fighting on Filipino territory. Despite Pentagon disclaimers aboutU.S. troops battling insurgents, the charges prevail in certain quarters.111 The opposition is not confined to gadflies on the fringe or to gaggles ofpolitical malcontents. Filipino legislators have called for hearings about thevalidity of VFA. Their plans include raising the constitutionality of the VFAbefore the country’s Supreme Court. These senators opposed to the SOF 61
  • 74. JSOU Report 10-3presence, especially at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga, contend that the VFApermitted Washington to obtain long-term de facto bases “without a treatyconcurred in by the Senate.” 112 Because of the American colonial legacy inthe Philippines, certain islanders deeply resent any U.S. military deploy-ment, even one functioning as advisors and aid workers. Should historyrepeat itself, anti-American politicians could once again pass legislationexpelling the U.S. military presence from the Philippines as happened inthe early 1990s. This outcome will not bode well for the Indirect Approach. Another particular political dimension distinguishes the Philippineconflict from other past and current insurgencies. Whereas in South Viet-nam, Somalia, El Salvador, and other insurgency venues the host govern-ment depended on America underwriting for its very survival, the Manilagovernment is not placed in similar jeopardy by its insurrectionists in thecountryside. If anything, Manila has been long inured to rural warfare fromits battles with U.S. forces for independence after the American Navy ridthe archipelago of Spanish colonial rule at the end of the 19th century. TheJapanese occupation during World War II saw the rise of a rural guerrillaresistance that simmered into the 1950s from the Hukbalahap (the People’sArmy Against Japan) or the Huks. When the Sino-Soviet split took placein the late 1960s, the Maoist wing of the island’s communist movementformed the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The CPP organizeda military wing in the New People’s Army to wage a Mao-like protractedpeople’s war that is still smoldering in some islands today. Because the NPAengaged in terrorism, extortion, rape, torture and murder, the United Statesand the European Union listed it as a terrorist network. Rural violence andinsurgent movements have become an enduring factor in the Philippinesnational life, not altogether different from the situation in contemporaryIndia, large sections of which remain beyond New Delhi’s sovereignty. Noneof the threats seemed immediately destined to topple the national govern-ment in Manila. But the Philippine governments’ ill-advised policies posedthreats for the overall aims of Washington. For the United States the existence of networks like Abu Sayyaf presentedthreats if they secured operating sanctuaries because of their global missionaimed at American interests. This state of affairs, paradoxically, placedAmerican forces in the position of dependence on their host. If the U.S.relationship with the indigenous military suffered a setback or the Manilagovernment lost control over its territorial space, violent extremists could62
  • 75. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachmake gains at America’s expense. For example, when an ally, such as Paki-stan, entered into agreements with militant militias in the mid-2000s, thetruce permitted the Taliban groups to refit and mobilize for cross-borderraids in Afghanistan. By not pressing the attack on Pakistani militants, theIslamabad government’s policies allowed terrorist havens to take root andendanger U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and perhaps beyond that moun-tainous country. Terrorist bases in Afghanistan, for instance, carried outthe 9/11 terrorist attacks in Manhattan and suburban Washington. Not longago Philippine policies opened the prospect for terrorist safe havens in theungoverned spaces on Mindanao. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo entered into behind-closed-door talkswith the MILF toward recognition of its autonomy on Mindanao duringmid-2008.113 The MILF started its insurgency in 1982 (but other separatistrebels started an earlier insurgency in 1972) with a goal of at least an autono-mous state. The Arroyo administration agreed to surrender to the MILF“ancestral domain” over wide swathes of Mindanao territory, including 700villages in return for vague promises of peace. Already in existence since1996 was the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), whichfell under control of the MILF’s chief rival, the Moro National LiberationFront (MNLF). The MNLF is still one of Philippines active insurgent groups.President Arroyo proposed to expand the ARMM area into a new andlarger entity and jeopardize the MNLF agreement. The Manila governmentdiscussed with the MILF the establishment of a new territorial unit knownas the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity in southern Mindanao. When the president sprang the news of the agreement with the MILF onan unsuspecting country, it set off protests. Many feared the balkanizationof Mindanao into separate fanatical states. Some enclaves might fall undercontrol of extremists who posed terrorism risks for the United States. Otherentities could endanger the lives and livelihood of Filipino non-Muslims. ThePhilippine Supreme Court halted the real estate transfer when other Mind-anao organizations challenged its legality. The MILF, true to form, reacted tothe court ruling with murder and mayhem. Prior to the Arroyo autonomypledge, Manila had entered into cease fire with the MILF in 2003. The MILFperiodically broke the arrangement when it felt that the peace process wasnot moving in its favor. But the unsteadying lull in violence benefited theMILF, because the agreement held at bay the U.S. Special Forces from helpingthe Armed Forces of the Philippines combat the MILF. In retrospect, both 63
  • 76. JSOU Report 10-3the truce and the autonomy pledge undercut the United States in its effortsto dry up terrorist swamps. Turning over acreage to militant movements is a prescription for trouble,as so alarmingly the world witnessed in a string of terrorist strikes hatchedin Afghanistan. Ungoverned Somalia, in another illustration, is home topirates who seize commercial vessels for ransom, disrupting legitimatecommerce. Pakistan’s truces with Taliban leaders gave them free rein andneeded time for the insurgents to consolidate their hold on lightly governedswaths of territory in the northwestern reaches of the country. Still anotherexample of possible political decisions by host countries adversely impactingAmerican COIN operations comes from Afghanistan. In the run-up to the20 August 2009 presidential elections, President Hamid Karzai announcedthat the U.S. military presence and international forces should be “based ona new contract” that would minimize civilian deaths, limit security searchesof private homes, and decrease the number of Afghan detentions in jailswithout charges.114 After Afghanistan’s August 2009 elections, President Karzai shrewdlyturned Washington’s disenchantment with him to his political advantage byportraying himself as independent from American tentacles. His advertisedfreedom from being under Uncle Sam’s thumb played well among certainAfghan constituencies.115 The Kabul government’s policy prescriptions andactions hint at future political friction between international COIN forcesand the host government. Both the Afghan and Philippine cases demon-strated the political vulnerability of the Indirect Approach, when the hostcountry decides to take a political course that runs counter to Americanefforts to eradicate potential threats. It is a lesson worthy of rememberingwhen implementing the Indirect Approach, so a doctrine does not evolveinto a dogma undermining our future security.Some ObservationsHistory never lays out a clear guide path for future courses of action. Butpast experiences can illuminate our insight while raising red lanterns towardreflexive applications of complex and dependent COIN strategies. Viet-nam, Somalia, and the Philippines vary widely in historical, cultural, andpolitical circumstances. These facts alone caution COIN practitioners aboutthe universality of any doctrine rigidly applied to win peace and stabilityagainst wily extremists. Implementing a doctrine, perfected or tested in64
  • 77. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachone country, will require adjustments and well-thought-out plans to avoidpitfalls in another landscape. At this juncture, American attention is focusedlargely on Afghanistan and Pakistan and directed to a lesser degree towardthe Philippines, the Horn of Africa, and more recently, Yemen. In each ofthese battlegrounds against extremists, the insurgencies differ as did theCOIN responses. Of these theaters, U.S. COIN in Afghanistan is presently character-ized by American and NATO troops doing the lion’s share of the fightingrather than having the practi-cal option to utilize surrogate … U.S. COIN in Afghanistan is presentlywarfare to a significant extent. characterized by American and NATOThe short-term objective is to troops doing the lion’s share of thebuy the Afghan people time fighting rather than having the practicaland space to build an indig- option to utilize surrogate warfare to aenous security force capable of significant extent.directly taking on the Talibanwith the Coalition eventually playing an “overwatch” role. The large-scaleU.S. profile provides less than optimum conditions for Indirect Approach.First, current tactical practices, as noted above, place U.S. troops in greaterdanger as they strive to protect civilians by abstaining from airstrikes andartillery bombardments. Second, the overrepresentation of U.S. and NATOunits (as compared to Afghan forces) reinforces the Taliban claim of a foreignoccupation. Under ideal circumstances, the Coalition presence would besmall, low visibility, and arm’s-length. Yet, without the build-up of foreignCoalition troops, the insurgents had turned the battle tide in their favor bymid-2009. The U.S. surge of 30,000 American troops and NATO reinforce-ments in 2010 shifted the momentum back to the Coalition side. The large-scale U.S. and NATO combat presence has another drawback.It is feared the robust Coalition deployment induces a dependency by theKarzai government and its security forces on the outside army. The Kabulauthority’s role looms large in securing and administering the newly liber-ated towns and lands from the Taliban. It constitutes a litmus test for theIndirect Approach, especially with President Barack Obama’s mandatedstart date for the withdrawal of some U.S. troops in July 2011. Becomingdependent on the United States for security and governance was the chiefworry by the American ambassador in the period before the White Houseannounced its surge strategy. In November 2009, Karl W. Eikenberry cabled 65
  • 78. JSOU Report 10-3Washington that the Karzai government “continues to shun responsibilityfor any sovereign burden, whether defense, governance or development.” Theenvoy added that the Afghan president and his circle “do not want the leave and are only too happy to see us invest further.” 116 Other problemsbedeviled the Indirect Approach. The prevalent charges of financial corruption in government affairsand voting fraud in the 20 August 2009 election damage the legitimacyof President Karzai and undercut the Indirect Approach, which strives tostrengthen and work through a credible government. It is a factor largelybeyond the control of SOF and other ground forces that, as noted above,cannot choose their host government. Yet their indirect mission dependson perceptions by the indigenous people about the role of American forcesin their nation’s governance. Afghanistan, in addition, has not witnessed a seamless coordinationbetween the host government and American commanders on anti-insurgencyoperations. Their views on COIN operations reflected differences of opinionand political perceptions. President Karzai has, as noted above, criticizedU.S. conduct of the war. He has also interfered with its implementation.Against their professional judgment, senior U.S. officers reportedly grantedKarzai’s request to dispatch temporarily a rifle company to defend BargeMatal, a remote village high in Nurestan province bordering Pakistanin July 2009. Located on the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush peaks ofnortheastern Afghanistan, the tiny community lay beyond the U.S. defense-of-communities game plan. The American military officials, in fact, hadplanned to pull back from under-populated terrain so as to concentrate onsafeguarding larger populations in the lowlands. When the outpost at BargeMatal was finally abandoned 2 months later, it led to friction with Afghangovernment officials, who encountered political problems when territory fellto the Taliban. As Army Colonel Randy George was quoted: “We’ve learnedthat there is a political component” to firebase closures.117 The politicizednature of the Indirect Approach translates into myriad political ramifica-tions that bode ill for even tactical gains against the insurgency. The other contested countries see various applications of the IndirectApproach. In Pakistan, American advisors are training Islamabad’s troopsto fight Taliban insurgents in that country’s northwestern areas. In theHorn and in the Philippines, SOF are playing a well-executed indirect roleto preempt a full-blown insurgency by transferring COIN techniques to66
  • 79. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachlocal African forces and the Filipino army. A similar thing can be said ofthe U.S. efforts in Yemen. Their low-profile role takes advantage of the mostideal conditions to operationalize training and readying missions againstsputtering insurgencies. The intense Afghan insurgency currently precludesa similar indirect role for U.S. and NATO troops. An “awakening” phenom-enon will not spread on its own; it must be protected and nurtured to lifein traumatized Afghanistan. The main shortcoming in the application of the Indirect Approach liesnot at the tactical level, where SOF and other U.S. forces interact with thelocal population. Here language and customs compel the adaptation ofCOIN guidelines, but the fundamentals endure to protect and to win overthe population and deny its complicity with the insurgents. At a higherlevel, however, the Indirect Approach faces uncertainties that are reflectedin the case studies within this monograph. The Vietnam War witnessed thelocal success of the Montagnard village defense forces in limiting Viet Congpenetration in their precincts. As outlined above, the mobilization of theMontagnards, however, strengthened their ethno-nationalism against theU.S.-allied South Vietnamese government, making it difficult to integratethe hill peoples’ units into Saigon’s armed forces. Iraq beheld again thedifficulties of integrating the “awakening” militias into the national armedforces dominated by Shiite officers and officials. Similar manifestations ofethnic autonomy and resistance to the central government’s authority arepresent in Afghanistan between the majority Pashtuns (who fill the Talibanranks) and Tajiks (who back the Kabul government). While these expres-sions of separatism existed before the current-day conflicts, the demands ofthe Indirect Approach, as noted, can exacerbate ethnic-nationalism, creat-ing problems for national unity. Even when ethnic animosities are mostlyabsent, the establishment of local power centers could prove divisive. Suchan outcome can confound the seamless implementation of the IndirectApproach. Afghanistan in early 2010 witnessed a public pause in the setting upof pro-government militias or the strengthening of existing local units toconfront the Taliban. Formed on their own or with assistance from SpecialForces, the grass-roots groups were seen as a means to bring security tovillages, where the Afghan army and police were too weak or too distrustedfor the self-defense mission. This plan, endorsed by General McChrystal,called for taking advantage of informal security organizations springing up 67
  • 80. JSOU Report 10-3in villages. To some observers, the village program resembled the Sons ofIraq (or the Awakening Councils) in Iraq. But distinctions are present in theAfghan version. Since weapons pervade across the mountainous country,American forces had no need to furnish arms to villagers. Money providedby SOF went to village development projects, not to individual militiamen.Special Forces instructed villagers and handed out radios to them for emer-gency calls to regular Afghan forces. In some instances, the grass-rootsforces were placed under the command of local shura, or council of elders,rather than a tribal headman to avoid spawning another crop of warlords.118 This program, known as the Local Defense Initiative, was temporarilysuspended by U.S. Ambassador Eikenberry and top Afghan governmentofficials out of fear that it was creating a new breed of warlords. Ruthlesswarlords had been a scourge of contemporary Afghan society especiallyafter the Red Army vacated in 1989. The suspension worked against COINefforts, however. U.S. military commanders and local Afghan officials sawmilitiamen as a first line of defense in the outlying countryside. The IndirectApproach to organize sub-national self-defense units against the Talibanwas thus temporarily placed on hold. In November 2009, Hanif Atmar, theAfghan Interior Minister, said in an interview that a few militia commandersacquired too much power. Atmar contended in the northern city of Kunduzthat militia leaders “became the power and they took money and collectedtaxes from the people” after expelling the Taliban. He added: “this is notlegal, and this is warlordism.” 119 American embassy officials called for morecentral government control of the Local Defense Initiative, lest the projectfoster decentralization and local chiefdoms. Yet U.S. military officers remained committed to community-level orga-nizations, because most Afghans regarded the Kabul government as corrupt,inefficient, and a danger to the village tribal structure. They viewed thebottoms-up approach as the only viable one in a fractured and war-tornsociety with a long history of distant and ineffectual central authority.120The dispute—one of many between State and Defense—was resolved in themilitary’s favor, but it hammered smooth execution of the Indirect Approach. Just a few years ago, early approaches in Somalia fell well short of expec-tations. First, in what was tantamount to a counterterrorist operation,CIA agents pursued Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists. The CIA support for thewarlords to track down the terror fugitives, in reality, played into the handsof extremist militias who rallied Somalis to their cause against the pervasive68
  • 81. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachlawlessness of warlord authority. Second, the Pentagon’s fall-back strategyresorted to bolstering the Ethiopian intervention to oust the ICU from powerin Mogadishu. This haphazard version of the Indirect Approach representeda desperate throw of the dice. Little else would have halted the extremists intheir march to destroy the TFG and with it any hope of a moderate regimein Somalia. In the short term it worked, but in the longer term it backfired.The Ethiopian invasion and occupation rekindled Somali revulsion againsttheir foreign overlords and enhanced the spread of an even more virulentextremism as manifested by the al-Sahaab militias. At least U.S. policy-makers decided pragmatically in realigning American support to Somalifigures. Today the militants threaten America’s current ruling partner. Thereputedly moderate Ahmed, as noted above, succeeded in galvanizing andcoalescing his extremist enemies, who denounced him as a mere U.S. tool.At least for now the Ahmed government serves as an unsteady bulwarkagainst true-believing insurgents. Finally, the Philippines, in many respects a showcase of the IndirectApproach, falls short of being a universal model. In the Sulu Archipelagothe American role is a discreet training operation accompanied by sharingintelligence and by civic action ventures more along the lines of a FID missionthan a full-blown COIN operation.121 Moreover, the Philippines’ long-livedpolitical and personal interactions with the United States preclude it frombeing a one-size-fits-all blueprint. This intertwined history has also witnessedperiods of Manila’s rejection and expulsion of the American military pres-ence on its soil, which could portend a renewed bout of anti-Americanism.Another recurrence might jeopardize the current favorable prospects of theIndirect Approach in the archipelago. The recent proposed transfer of terri-tory on Mindanao Island to the separatist MILF, which reportedly colludedwith the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, once again demonstrates that politicaldecisions above the tactical level can adversely impact a sound applicationof the Indirect Approach. Manila’s historic neglect of the 30 percent Muslimminority in Mindanao is better overcome with economic developmentand representational political integration. The United States has moved toprovide more assistance to the long-impoverished area. To date, Washingtonchanneled more than $500 million in security assistance to Manila since thesigning of the VFA in 2000.122 Astute economic and political actions fromManila can only complement the U.S. Indirect Approach to the extremists’ 69
  • 82. JSOU Report 10-3insurgency. But should the Manila government veer from a sound politicalcourse, it would compromise the Indirect Approach. A final and crucial point about the Indirect Approach centers on its cost-effectiveness ratio. To date, the United States and its allies have expendedvastly disproportionate funds on the insurgency battlegrounds whencompared with the extremists. These expenditures have been highest in Iraqand Afghanistan. But the costs are also nontrivial in the Horn of Africanand Philippines when combined with smaller U.S. deployments elsewhere.Al Qaeda calculates it can “open new fronts” in order “to exhaust Americaeconomically.” By creating safe havens, the terrorist network strategizes thatit can do to the United States what the mujahideen did to the Soviet Unionduring the 1980s—bleed it to death economically. Humbling the Sovietsuperpower in Afghanistan two decades ago sustains extremists today inthe belief that they can repeat history through opening many safe havensor insurgent fronts.123 An astute counterinsurgent policy must reckon withand defeat this protracted-conflict stratagem. Costs and cost-effectiveness,therefore, will need to be part of the Indirect Approach calculus. It is thehypothesis of this monograph that only a calibrated and carefully executedIndirect Approach can spare the United States from financial insolvencyand political exhaustion in combating the spreading of terrorist-inspiredinsurgencies around the globe. America confronts a global gathering storm from insurgent-based andideologically fueled terrorism. The Indirect Approach is an important initia-tive to check or defeat extremist-inspired insurgencies in several theaters.In addition to the countries noted in this monograph, others—includingYemen, Colombia, and Mauritania—have budding insurgencies. The Indi-rect Approach to helping our partners to combat extremist insurgenciesis the only realistic policy at hand. Its inherent vulnerabilities, such as thedependence on mediocre host governments or volatile internal circum-stances, demand frank acknowledgement, however. The strategy cannot bean automatic substitute on its own for SOF and regular U.S. forces when onlydirect intervention preserves or safeguards American lives and interests.America’s security cannot be outsourced and dependent on others. Howthe Indirect Approach is implemented, with thoughtfulness and subtlety,remains an overarching objective. Dogmatic applications of a doctrine doit great disservice, perhaps leading to defeat.70
  • 83. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachEndnotes Many thanks to Oliver F. Ennis and Akhil R. Iyer, Stanford University, for his research and editing assistance and to Heather Campbell, the Hoover Institution, for computer assistance. 1. David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1964), page 95. 2. Tom A. Peter, “How Iraq Shaped New U.S. Military Mind-Set,” Christian Science Monitor, 12 August 2009, page 9. 3. Anand Gopal and Yochi J. Dreazen, “Afghanistan Enlists Tribal Militia Force,” Wall Street Journal, 11 August 2009, page A9. 4. Liddell Hart, Strategy, Second Edition (New York: Meridian, 1991), page 343. 5. Thom Shanker, “With Afghan People in Mind, a New Commander Rethinks How to Measure Success,” New York Times, 29 June 2009, page A8. 6. Tom Vanden Brook, “Afghan Forces Key to U.S. Missions Success,” USA Today, 6 July 2009, page 6. 7. Thom Shanker and Richard A. Oppel Jr., “In Tactical Shift, Troops Will Stay and Hold Ground in Afghanistan,” New York Times, 3 July 2009, page A8. 8. Venita Jenkins, “U.S. General Sees Progress in Afghanistan,” Fayetteville Observer, 6 July 2009, page 1. 9. A totally different meaning of the phase Indirect Approach formed the theme of the eminent military historian B. H. Liddell Hart in his renowned book Strategy, pages 5-6. In Hart’s usage the term meant flanking attacks, or at least not direct assaults on entrenched defenders in fortified positions. 10. Robert M. Cassidy, Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2008), pages 99-100. 11. Brian McAllister Linn, The Echo of Battle: The Army’s Way of War (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2007), pages 239-242. 12. Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., The Army and Vietnam (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pages 35, 70, 170-71, 259. 13. Admiral Eric T. Olson, “A Balanced Approach to Irregular Warfare,” The Journal of International Security Affairs, No. 16 (Spring 2009), page 2; available from www. (accessed March 2010). 14. President John. F. Kennedy, “Remarks at West Point to the Graduating Class of the U.S. Military Academy, 6 June 1962,” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum; available from Audio+Video+Asset+Viewer.htm?guid={71B1B505-C400-4CA5-8CE8- 2C36BC2618F0}&type=Audio (accessed March 2010). 15. For a robust argument in favor of the Indirect Approach in Afghanistan and Iraq, see Richard D. Newton, Travis L. Homiak, Kelly H. Smith, Isaac J. Peltier, and D. Jonathan White, Contemporary Security Challenges: Irregular Warfare and Indirect Approaches, JSOU Report 09-3 (February 2009). 71
  • 84. JSOU Report 10-3 16. For an explanation of this principle of war, see Thomas H. Henriksen, Dividing Our Enemies, JSOU Report 05-5, November 2005. 17. Olson, “A Balanced Approach to Irregular War,” page 3. 18. Angelo M. Codevilla, No Victory, No Peace (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), page 56. 19. Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (New York: W. W. Horton, 2007), page 73. 20. Inal Ersan, “Al Qaeda threatens to use Pakistani nuclear weapons,” 22 June 2009; available from Paki.html (accessed March 2010). Also Abdul Hameed Bakier, “Jihadis Speculate on al-Qaeda’s Nuclear Strategy,” Terrorism Monitor, Vol. VII, Issue 28 (17 September 2009), pages 3-4. 21. Bartle Breese Bull, “The Wrong Force for the ‘Right War,’” New York Times, 14 August 2008, page A23. 22. Eric Schmitt and Jane Perlez “Secret U.S. Unit Trains Commandos in Pakistan,” New York Times, 23 February 2009, page A1 and Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, “CIA Missile Strike May Have Killed Pakistan’s Taliban Leader, Officials Say,” New York Times, 7 August 2009, page A7. 23. Yochi J. Dreazen, “U.S. Revisits Afghan Battle Rules, Wall Street Journal, 23 June 2009, page A7. 24. Dexter Filkins, “U.S. Toughens Airstrike Policy in Afghanistan,” New York Times, 22 June 2009, page A1. 25. Jason Reich, “In Afghanistan, Itching for a Fight that Never Comes,” World Poli- tics, 14 August 2000; available from article.aspx?id=4198 (accessed March 2010). 26. Ann Scott Tyson, “Less Peril for Civilians, but More for Troops, Washington Post, 23 September 2009, page A1. 27. David C. Gompert and John Gordon IV, War by Other Means (Santa Monica: RAND National Defense Research Institute, 2008), page xxiii. 28. Bill Gertz, “Inside the Ring,” Washington Times, 11 June 2009, page B1. 29. Anthony James Joes, America and Guerrilla Warfare (Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press, 2004), pages 132-134 and 260-262. 30. Mark P. Lagon, The Reagan Doctrine (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1994), page 127. 31. For a magisterial treatment of Army miscalculation, see Brian McAllister Linn’s The Echo of Battle (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2007). 32. Kimberly Kagan, The Surge: A Military History (New York: Encounter Books, 2009), pages 60-63. 33. Jeffrey A. Dressler, Securing Helmand: Understanding and Responding to the Enemy (Washington, D.C.: Institute for the Study of War, 2009), page 5.72
  • 85. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approach34. Kimberly Kagan, “Can Iraq Awakening be repeated in Afghanistan?” Washington Examiner, 15 September 2009, page 13.35. Ruhullah Khapalwak and David Rhode, “A Look at America’s New Hope: The Afghan Tribes,” New York Times, 31 January 2010, Section IV, page 3.36. Vietnam Studies, U.S. Army Special Forces, 1961-1971, CMH Publication 90-23 (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, 1989), Chapter II, page 1; available from (accessed March 2010).37. Christopher K. Ives, U.S. Special Forces and Counterinsurgency in Vietnam: Mili- tary Innovation and Institutional Failure, 1961-1963 (London: Routledge, 2007), page 89.38. The Pentagon Papers: the Defense Department History of United States Decision- making on Vietnam. The Senator Gravel Edition (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), Vol. 2, pages 158-159.39. Krepinevich, The Army and Vietnam, pages 72-73.40. Douglas S. Blaufarb, The Counterinsurgency Era: U.S. Doctrine and Performance, 1950 to the Present (New York: Free Press, 1977), page 107.41. For a brief overview of the tribal-national approach, see David Wood, “Afghanistan: Who Are We Fighting for, Anyway? After Eight Years Strategy Is Still Unclear,” Politics Daily, 9 February 2010; available from afghanistan-who-are-we-fighting-for-anyway-after-eight-years/ (accessed March 2010).42. Christopher Ives, U.S. Special Forces and Counterinsurgency in Vietnam, page 96.43. Sudarsan Raghavan and Anthony Shadid, “In Iraq, Two Key U.S. Allies Face Off,” Washington Post, 30 March 2009, page A1; Steven Lee Myers and Helene Cooper, “In Baghdad, Obama Presses Iraq Leader To Unite Factions,” New York Times, 8 April 2009, page A1; and Hameed Rasheed and Liz Sly, “Paramilitary Leader Held by Iraqi Police,” Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2009, page A17.44. Rod Nordland, “Arrests of Sunni Leaders Rise in Baghdad,” New York Times, 30 July 2009, page A6; Aamer Madhani, “Exclusions ‘Could Move Iraq Backward,’” USA Today, 1 February 2010, page 4; and Steven Lee Myers, “Ban on Hundreds of Iraqi Candidates Overturned,” New York Times, 4 February 2010, page A6.45. Najim Abed Al-Jabouri, “Iraqi Security Forces after U.S. Troops Withdrawal: An Iraqi Perspective,” Strategic Forum, No. 245 (August 2009), page 6.46. Thomas H. Henriksen, American Power after the Berlin Wall (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), pages 61-67. For an account of fighting in Mogadishu, see Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down (New York: Signet, 2001).47. Osama bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa, “Declaration of War against the American Occu- pying the Lands of the Two Holy Places”; available from terrorism/international/fatwa_1996.html (accessed March 2010).48. Paul Salopek, “War on Terror’s Hidden Front,” Chicago Tribune, 18 November 2008, page A1. 73
  • 86. JSOU Report 10-3 49. U.S. Army and Marine Corps, Counterinsurgency Field Manual (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007), page 181. 50. John Drysdale, “Foreign Military Intervention in Somalia: Root Cause of the Shift from UN Peacekeeping to Peacemaking and its Consequences,” in Learning from Somalia: The Lessons of Armed Humanitarian Intervention, ed. Walter Clarke and Jeffrey Herbst (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1997), pages 126-130. 51. David H. Shinn, “Somalia’s New Government and the Challenge of Al-Shabab,” CTC Sentinel, Vol. 2, Issue 3 (March 2009), page 2. 52. Mark Mazzetti, “Efforts by CIA Fail in Somalia, Officials Charge,” New York Times, 8 August 2006, page A1. 53. Emily Wax and Karen DeYoung, “U.S. Secretly Backing Warlords in Somalia,” Washington Post, 17 May 2006, page A1. 54. Jeffrey Gettleman, “In Somalia, Government Once Hailed as Best Hope is Teeter- ing on Collapse,” New York Times, 29 March 2008, page 5. 55. Harmony Project, Al-Qaida’s (mis)Adventures in the Horn of Africa, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 2007, page 29. 56. Marc Lacey, “Alliance of Somali Warlords Battles Islamists in Capital,” New York Times, 5 May 2006, page A6. 57. Mohamed Ali Bile, “Somali Militia Vows an Islamic State,” Washington Post, 7 June 2006, page A16. 58. Karen DeYoung, “U.S. Strike in Somalia Targets Al-Qaeda Figure,” Washington Post, 9 January 2007, page A1. 59. Eben Kaplan, “Q&A: Somalia’s Terrorist Infestation,” New York Times, 1 June 2006, page A14. 60. Reuters, “U.S. Says Cash, Arms Flowing to Islamists in Somalia,” Los Angeles Times, 30 June 2006, page 14. 61. Marc Lacey, “New Militant Leader Emerges in Mogadishu,” New York Times, 26 June 2006, page A6. 62. Jeffery Gettleman, “U.S. Military Official Offers a Bleak Assessment of Somalia,” New York Times, 11 November 2006, page A6. 63. Jonathan Stevenson, “A Fleeting Victory in Somalia,” New York Times, 8 January 2007, page A19. 64. Mark Mazzetti, “Pentagon Sees Move in Somalia as Blueprint,” New York Times, 13 January 2007, page A8. 65. Jeffrey Gettleman, “As Europe Tries to Make Peace, Somalis Fight,” New York Times, 21 December 2006, page A8. 66. Mazzetti, “Pentagon Sees Move in Somalia as Blueprint,” page A8. 67. Craig Timberg, “Ethiopians Take Over Somali Capital,” Washington Post, 29 December 2006, page 1.74
  • 87. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approach68. Chris Tomlinson, “U.S. Hires Firm for Somalia Mission,” Boston Globe, 8 March 2007, page 6.69. Stephanie McCrummen, “U.S. Troops Went Into Somalia After Raid,” Washington Post, 12 January 2007, page A1.70. Michael R. Gordon and Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. Used Base in Ethiopia to Hunt Al Qaeda in Africa,” New York Times, 23 February 2007, page A1.71. Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), page 314.72. For an overview of the Afghan intervention, see Stephen Tanner, Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban (New York: Da Capo Press, 2002), pages 289-320.73. For a counterview of the Afghan intervention, see Hy S. Rothstein, Afghanistan and the Troubled Future of Unconventional Warfare (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2006), pages 12-14.74. Afghanistan’s Narco War: Breaking the Link between Drug Traffickers and Insur- gents. A Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate. 10 August 2009, page 4; available from pdf/CPRT-111SPRT51521.pdf (accessed March 2010).75. James Risen, “U.S. to Hunt Down Afghan Drug Lords Tied to Taliban,” New York Times, 10 August 2009, page A1.76. Joshua Paltow and Karen DeYoung, “With Karzai Favored to Win, U.S. Walks A Fine Line,” Washington Post, 14 August 2009, page A1; and Laura King, “Afghani- stan’s Hamid Karzai scrambles to hold on,” Los Angeles Times, 18 August 2009, page A1.77. Dalton Fury, Kill Bin Laden (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008), page 287.78. Woodward, Bush at War, pages 195, 310-311.79. Eric Schmitt and Christopher Drew, “More Drone Attacks In Pakistan Planned,” New York Times, 7 April 2009, page A6 and Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, “Shaky Pakistan Is Seen as Target of Al Qaeda Plots,” New York Times, 11 May 2009, page A1.80. Henriksen, American Power after the Berlin Wall, pages 164-165.81. Jeffry Gettleman, “People Who Feed off Anarchy in Somalia are Quick to Fuel It,” New York Times, 25 April 2007, page A10.82. Bill Roggio, “The Rise & Fall of Somalia’s Islamic Courts: An Online History,” Long War Journal, 4 January 2007; available from archives/2007/01/the_rise_fall_of_som.php (accessed March 2010).83. Jeffrey Gettleman, “U.S. Envoy Visits Somalia and Urges Truce for Capital,” New York Times, 8 April 2007, page A9.84. Mark McDonald, “For Somali Pirates, 2009 Is a Record Year,” New York Times, 30 December 2009, A9.85. Jeffrey Gettleman, “Somalia’s Pirates Flourish in a Lawless Nation,” New York Times, 31 October 2008, page A1. 75
  • 88. JSOU Report 10-3 86. Edmund Sanders, “U.S. Missile Strike in Somalia Kills 6,” Los Angeles Times, 4 March 2008, page 8. 87. Stephanie McCrummen, “Al-Qaeda’s Top Commander in Somalia Killed in U.S. Airstrike,” Washington Post, 1 May 2008, page 12. 88. Stephenie McCrummen, “U.S. Strikes in Somalia Targets Terror Suspects,” Wash- ington Post, 4 March 2008, page 13. 89. Harmony Project, Al-Qaida’s (mis)Adventures in the Horn of Africa, pages 3, 19-21. 90. Edmund Sanders, “Conditions May be Ripe for Al Qaeda in Somalia,” Los Angeles Times, 25 August 2008, page 8. 91. Nick Grace, “Shabaab Reaches Out to al Qaeda Senior Leaders,” The Long War Journal, 2 September 2008. 92. Davika Bhal, “Somalia clashes continue as al-Qaeda names its key figure,” 27 March 2007; available from ece (accessed March 2010). 93. Mary Beth Sheridan, “U.S. Has Sent 40 Tons of Munitions to Aid Somali Govern- ment,” Washington Post, 27 June 2007, page A 1. 94. Anonymous, “A Diagnosis of Somalia’s Failing Transitional Government,” CTC Sentinel, Vol. 2, Issue 7 (July 2009), page 9. 95. Ibid. 96. Sarah Childress, “U.S. Promises Somalia More Aid to Help Fight Terror,” Wall Street Journal, 7 August 2009, page A5. 97. Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Philippines Routs Militants, Offer Model,” Chicago Tribune, 2 June 2009, page 13. 98. Associated Press, “Estrada Now Seeks Closer Military Ties with U.S.,” Singapore Straits Times, 15 September 2000), page 1. 99. Robert Frank and James Hookway, “Manila Police Say Rebels Have Links to Bin Laden,” Wall Street Journal, 25 September 2001, page A1.100. James Hookway, “U.S. Efforts Against Guerrillas in Philippines is Messy Success,” Wall Street Journal, 9 September 2002, page A1. 101. Mark Bowden, “Jihadists in Paradise,” The Atlantic (March 2007), page 60.102. Ibid., pages 54-75. 103. Ibid., page 75.104. Carlos H. Conde, “23 Filipino Soldiers Killed in Clashes,” New York Times, 14 August 2009, page A8.105. Emma-Kate Symons, “Terrorists Hit Back in Philippines,” The Australian, 20 August 2007, page 1.106. Colonel David Maxwell’s notes, “Commander’s Summary of Operation OEF-P, 5 May 2002, page 3, which were e-mailed to the author on 20 September 2008. 107. Warren P. Strobel, “The Philippines: America’s Other War on Terrorism,” McClatchy Newspapers, 22 October 2008, page 1.76
  • 89. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approach108. Jennifer H. Svan, “U.S. Troops ‘Waging Peace’ In Philippines after Balikatan,” Pacifice Stars and Stripes (26 March 2006), page 2.109. Carlos H. Conde, “Philippine Toll in Islamist Attacks is the Region’s Highest,” New York Times, 31 July 2007, page A4.110. T. D. Flack, “U.S. Calls Balikatan Exercises a Success, But some Filipinos Want Mission Discontinued,” Stars and Stripes, Pacific Edition, 12 May 2009, page 1.111. Efren L. Danao, “Gadian Alleges U.S. Has Camps in Mindanao, Manila Times, 28 August 2009, page 1 and Hrvoje Hranjski, “U.S. denies troops involved in combat in Philippines,” Taiwan News, 28 August 2009; available from www. img=logo_world&cate_rss=WORLD_eng (accessed March 2010).112. Aurea Calica, “U.S. Troops’ Stay Didn’t Help Solve Insurgency in South, Philippine Star, 23 August 2009, page 1.113. For background on the separatist talks, see Thomas M. McKenna, Muslim Rulers and Rebels: Everyday Politics and Armed Separatism in the Southern Philippines (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1998), pages 3-5.114. Associated Press, “Karzai Wants ‘New Contract’ With Allies,” USA Today, 28 July 2009, page 6.115. Helen Cooper, “Karzai Using Rift with U.S. to Gain Favor,” New York Times, 29 August 2009, page A1.116. Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Envoy’s Cables Show Concern on Afghan War Plans,” New York Times, 26 January 2010, page A1.117. Greg Jaffe, “U.S. Commanders Told to Shift Focus to More Populated Areas,” Washington Post, 22 September 2009, page A1.118. Greg Jaffe and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “Plan on Hold for Afghan Militias to Fight Taliban,” Washington Post, 22 January 2010, page A8.119. Dexter Filkins, “U.S. Delays Setting up More Anti-Taliban Militias,” New York Times, 23 January 2010, page A8.120. Jaffe and Chandrasekaran, “Plan on Hold for Afghan Militias to Fight Taliban,” page A8.121. Lieutenant Colonel Brian Petit, “OEF Philippines: Thinking COIN, Practicing FID,” Special Warfare (Vol. 23, Issue 1), January-February 2010, page 2; available from (accessed March 2010).122. Manny Mogato, “U.S. Vows More Aid to Philippines to Anti-Militant Fight,” Reuters, 1 June 2009; available from MAN81689 (accessed March 2010).123. Murad Batal al-Shishani, “The Concept of Safe Havens in Salafi-Jihadi Strategy,” Terrorism Monitor, Vol. VII, Issue 27 (11 September 2009), page 7. 77